IGN Stages Actual Race for 'Gran Turismo' Video-Game Launch

With Social, Digital and Online Teetering on Overexposure, Marketers Turn to Real-Life Events to Capture Key Male Demo

By Published on .

Irina Slutsky
Irina Slutsky

Yesterday in San Francisco, the "Gran Turismo" racing game franchise held an all-day scavenger hunt in which 12 teams of two participated, ending in an all-out party where the winning team was announced. Dedicated gamers ran around the city, searching for Lamborghinis, Ferraris, Audis and Teslas at historic locations like the Golden Gate Bridge and the Painted Ladies Houses. The mini-"Amazing Race" event launched the "Gran Turismo 5" game.

Why is this significant? After years of scampering for social-media dominance, digital-marketing dominance and online status, the signal-to-noise ratio is so high, marketers are forced to put on real-life events to get the attention of that monumentally important audience of men between the ages of 18 to 35.

"With so much exposure with social media and digital, there's overexposure," said Stephanie Yoshimoto, a Sony senior product manager. "Now since digital and social media is extremely popular, this event is going to give us a lot more value vs. just a traditional digital buy." Sony produces the game and put on the event in conjunction with IGN and AskMen.com.

The guys who play these games agree. Ben Dally, 31, was so impressed with the idea that he flew up from Los Angeles to participate. "It's hard for an ad to stand out, and it was a real-life scavenger hunt so it was something different and it spoke to me," Mr. Dally said. He saw the ad on the IGN network and that linked to an Askmen.com microsite. Askmen.com originated the idea for the event.

"This could potentially be the start of a new trend," said Ricardo Poupada, AskMen.com co-founder, adding that many of their clients are asking for something "out of the box" and today that means something that's not digital and something that's very real and very tangible. "The clients always want more engagement, engagement, engagement! There's nothing more engaging than doing something live with your customers."

Is it expensive to put on these kinds of live events? "They're in line with some of the other high-end custom executions like video or Foursquare badging or interactive microsites," Mr. Poupada said.

So there you have it. The latest in digital marketing? Real-world events.

Irina Slutsky has been in the Bay Area tech scene since 2004. She worked as an old-school newspaper reporter in Florida and New Jersey. She was born in Kazakhstan, like Borat.
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