Ford Motor's Latest Ad Campaign Turns Into a Video Game

'Tomb Raider' Publisher Eidos Produces 'Bold Moves' Racing Title

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LOS ANGELES -- Ford Motor Co. is hoping to get some extra mileage out of its current advertising campaign with a little help from a video game.
The 'Ford Bold Moves Street Racing' video game gets its title from the automaker's ad campaign.



The automaker has partnered with Eidos Interactive, publisher of the popular "Tomb Raider" franchise, to produce "Ford Bold Moves Street Racing," set to hit store shelves Sept. 12 for the PlayStation 2, Xbox, PSP and PC platforms.

Banging up the cars

In the game, players can race 18 of the company's high-performance cars and trucks, from the 1968 Mustang GT to the 2007 Shelby GT500, on 24 tracks. The Shelby GT500, launched this summer, serves as the cover car. One feature that sets the game apart from others allows players to control three cars at once. A progressive damage system also causes every hit a vehicle takes to affect the appearance, performance and drivability.

"They're allowing us to beat up their cars," said David Bamberger, U.S. marketing manager for Eidos. "You don't see that in other games. The other manufacturers aren't as enlightened to let you do that."

Eidos is licensing the use of the vehicles from Ford as part of the deal. Ford didn't pay to develop the game.

The deal with Ford gives Eidos a much-needed racing title. Video-game publishers generate much of their revenue from sports and racing games. Eidos has earned most of its coin over the years from the "Tomb Raider" games and franchises such as "Hitman." "Ford Bold Moves Street Racing" will be the company's only racing game on the market.

"Having a good racing game in our portfolio is a goal," Mr. Bamberger said.

For Ford, the game will give consumers a virtual test drive of its vehicles -- well, at least the ones that go really fast.

'Good synergy'

"We viewed it as good synergy," said Mark Bentley, licensing manager for Ford Motor Co. "It's a way to connect with consumers who are already connecting with us through the Bold Moves campaign through web advertising, TV advertising and Kelly Clarkson, who has been our spokesperson." Ford launched its "Bold Moves" campaign in May, the same time that Eidos picked up the rights to publish and distribute the game.

Eidos isn't concerned that the game might come off as too commercial for consumers. In fact, the publisher is counting on Ford's moniker to actually help sell more product.

"We're going to the casual gamer with the product," Mr. Bamberger said. "If we look at how this consumer purchases, they're shopping and looking for things that strike their interest. They don't want the latest thing. A lot of times, these people aren't the magazine readers, the website readers. They see [a game] on the shelf and buy it. It's an impulse buy. The beautiful thing about the Bold Moves campaign is it's so clean. For packaging in a busy environment, it's terrific."

Mr. Bamberger added that having the Ford brand on the packaging can serve as a "signal of quality." "It's one of those things that settles people down," he said, referring not only to consumers but also to retailers stocking the game. "It helps people understand it."

Dual promotional strategies

Eidos will begin marketing the game at retail next month and launch a bigger push around the holiday shopping season. At the same time, Ford will promote the title at events, through PR efforts, in its employee catalog and potentially on its website.

The goal is to go after 18- to 49-year-old males, but especially general gamers. The average age of the traditional gamer today is 33, according to the Entertainment Software Association.

Whereas most high-profile games generate much of their revenue in the first two months of release, "Ford Bold Moves Racing" is considered more of an evergreen title, with a shelf life of up to two years. Much of that is due to its price tag: The game will retail for $19.95.

This isn't Ford's first foray into video games.

The automaker licensed its name to British publisher Empire Interactive to produce three versions of "Ford Street Racing," which has been distributed by Take-Two Interactive in Europe and 2K Games in the U.S. The franchise has sold over 1.5 million copies. Publisher 2K Games recently also produced "Ford Mustang: The Legend Lives" and a "Ford vs. Chevy" game that hit retailers last year.

Game follows ad campaign

The new game was only adapted around "Bold Moves" after Eidos executives started looking for a racing game of their own. They considered distributing Empire's "Ford Street Racing" franchise as is, but after seeing the launch of the "Bold Moves" ad campaign, they felt the tagline would help enhance the title for U.S. gamers. (The game won't be sold under the "Bold Moves" moniker in Europe, given that Ford's campaign doesn't exist there.)

Eidos' strategy fit with what Ford wanted to do with the game. "When Empire came to us with this game last year, we wanted to take a little different approach," Mr. Bentley said. "We wanted to change up the naming and how the game was played a little bit."

A second version of the "Bold Moves" game is already in the works for the end of 2007.
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