AdLab's intrepid editor driving against traffic towards advertising future.
AdAge today: "Volkswagen of America is launching the newest-generation GTI exclusively on an iPhone app." The entire launch budget for the new model is estimated $500K instead of the customary $60M, since the game is the only thing VW is doing. Fail or win, this is bound to end up in everyone's PowerPoint decks, so I went in to take a few pictures as a matter of public service.
This is the menu. To learn more about the car itself, go to the garage (that says "Showroom"). "Credits" only include the developers of the original Real Racing game that VW has licensed to build its version. "Winners Circle" goes to the leaderboard website (apparently, VW is giving away six cars to best players). "Get Full Game" takes you back to the app store so that you can buy the real Real Racing for $6.99. Don't know about VW, but definitely smart marketing for Firemint, the game developer. Real Racing is currently in the top 10 racing games in the app store.
You can choose from a bunch of models that looks sort of the same (or not; I don't know jack about cars).
And then you drive, and it's actually fairly pleasant. Because I suck at this stuff, all other cars passed me in a heartbeat and I was left to enjoy the scenery, which included an ample supply of billboards. In case you didn't get the memo about GTI 2010, there's a billboard for that, too.
This is what you get when you click "Showroom" on the menu. Plenty of glamor car shots here. "Find a Dealer" didn't; it said "can't locate dealers".
Overall, a pleasant racing game -- definitely better than that early Audi advergame for iPhone -- although hardly outstanding enough to make it the only thing in the ad mix. But then again, it's a free version of an already popular paid game, so maybe it will get traction fast. Besides, VW has sold 5,558 GTIs this year so far (AdAge says), so maybe the numbers bar isn't too high. Wonder if they considered adding sponsored models and tracks into the next update of the full version of Real Racing.
VW's game launched on Oct 13. The advergame that actually did launch today is Reebok's iSprint -- also racing title, but very different.