Ford has put its Taurus sedan in an online interactive game that extends USA Network's "White Collar" show, in which Taurus also takes a star turn. The game highlights Taurus and its on-board technology in a video rather than in animation, a narrative that parallels the structure of the TV show.
In the game, at ChasingTheShadow.USANetwork.com, players are FBI trainees sent on a mission to track a high-end criminal named White Shadow. Like the show -- a sort of odd-couple caper series about a con man paired with a G-man -- the game "White Collar: Chasing the Shadow" features the Taurus as the car driven by the player. While driving the Taurus, the trainee uses features like Ford Sync technology (to receive text messages, voice messages, make calls, and get clues); SecuriCode vehicle access; adaptive cruise control; and collision warning.
Jeff Eggen, Ford car experiential marketing manager, tells Marketing Daily that both the network and Ford dreamed up the program. "USA Network has been a leader in developing online game extensions for their most popular shows, and we have been talking about this with them from the beginning," he says. Eggen says USA's digital agency Glow developed the game and Team Detroit's Wunderman unit provided input "in terms of how Taurus should be integrated."
Ford Taurus branding frames the game window, and vehicle features are also touted via text messages and voice messages from headquarters. "We are definitely taking integration of Taurus and features to a new level," says Eggen.
Ford will promote the game on USA's home page. "We have call-outs within the 'White Collar' program itself, and we will have additional ads and promo boxes within USA Networks," says Eggen -- who adds that the majority of game players will be fans of the show who also align with Taurus' target demographic. "It is right in alignment with Taurus. What USA is doing here is driving an audience for the show to this deeper experience, so we aren't expecting a whole different group of people, but a subset of the demographic watching the show."
Ford says online gaming in the U.S. is growing 10 times as fast as the entire U.S. Internet population, and that in November alone online gaming sites generated 53 million unique visitors.
The "White Collar" game will have seven episodes over seven weeks, with the final episode launching March 9, ending on the 16th. On March 19, the player has who solved all seven missions wins a 2010 Taurus.