Wrap your mind around this: Chevrolet and Microsoft Advertising are using the 2010 Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival to show off a new multi-screen game platform, the new Volt electric car, and an array of potential multi-screen marketing applications for Volt using the new platform, called Kinect.
The first application -- Kinect for Xbox 360, which launches this summer -- essentially takes console-free gaming (à la Wii) a step further. The player doesn't need to handle a controller at all.
The game comes loaded with "Kinect Joy Ride," the first controller-free racing game from Microsoft Game Studios. And Chevrolet Volt is loaded into the game. People can play the game after viewing a video advertisement in-dash on Xbox Live or on the Web. That allows them to unlock the Chevrolet Volt in "Kinect Joy Ride" to virtually drive the car in a game.
Microsoft says Kinect for Xbox 360's controller-free platform uses a motion sensor that recognizes players and responds to their movements and gestures. Kinect can also take pictures during gameplay, which players will be able to upload.
The Kinect technology -- which can recognize a user by and discern differences in voice and facial expressions -- can be adapted to work on PC, mobile and TV, a consideration that raises the bar for Chevrolet, per Steve Rosenblum, director, advertising and sales promotion for the General Motors division.
"What is so exciting is that this is a multi-screen innovation; that means you could potentially design your Volt or choose options on your cell phone. This brings a tremendous opportunity," says Rosenblum. He adds that Volt won't advertise on Kinect and there won't be overt Chevrolet branding. Rather, Volt will be integral to the performance-driving game. Rosenblum says everything beyond that is white space at this point. "That's really the first part."
Chevrolet also has an iPhone app for Volt, and is working on an iPad execution as well, per Rosenblum. He says for Volt, the medium is the message. "This is the future, and what we are really trying to do, since Volt is such a highly technical vehicle, is make the advertising communications as unique as we can." Chevrolet will be the first auto marketer to incorporate a Volt-branded advertising experience for the new Windows Phone 7.
And the company says it will use Microsoft's Pivot technology, part of Microsoft Silverlight that allows high-resolution, 3D manipulation of content.
The companies said they are also mulling putting Kinect kiosks running the "Kinect Joy Ride" at Chevrolet's promotional events and showrooms. They may also put Microsoft Surface tables with Volt content at the events.
The first Volt elements of the campaign, via Starcom through Microsoft Advertising, will run across MSN and MSN Autos, Xbox Live and a custom Chevrolet advertising microsite followed by the mobile and Surface integrations, per the companies.
But Rosenblum adds that because Volt is not meant to be a niche vehicle or curiosity, the launch campaign will use traditional media. "You have to understand what Volt is and what it means to Chevrolet," he says. "It is an everyday car, not a niche car. So our whole position is it's available for everyone. This should be broad-based with a tremendous digital element."