Integrating advertising in a game and how Real Racing GTI nailed it

If it has worked in other platforms why not on the iPhone? Grand Theft Auto and Need For Speed come to mind when thinking of good advertising blending. Is the iPhone, of game creators, able to do the same?


There are games that have been created ad-hoc by advertisers. Think of Waterslide Barclays game or Carling's iBeer. Since then, car manufacturers, book publishers, hollywood studios have not been shy and have introduced an array of promotional apps in the store that have never been seen in the software industry. The apps and games in this category tend to split in two groups: 

- Apps that help you too use the advertised service (Think of Amazon, eBay, Barnes&Noble, Facebook, Pandora, Google, Flixter,…) You name it. 

- Apps that only aim to entertain the user and publicise it in social networks. (Zippo, Nikon, any major car manufacturer,…)

There is a thin line between the two, experiencing the service and the purely amusing part. After some attempts, VW has done it with the help from Firemint in Real Racing GTI. In the first place, I guess Volkswagen marketing people wanted to give potential drivers a feel of what the GTI is about. You might argue that it is only a game, but at least you simulate to drive (unlike Barclay's app, I don't take the waterside at my high street branch). The app contains a virtual showroom, a retail finder, which might save you a visit to their website. 

On the other side, there is the fun element. Real Racing is one of the top games in the iPhone racing category, if not the best. The VW board must be real appfreaks to use all the advertising budget for the GTI in a mobile phone game. When you team up with a successful studio like Firemint (Flight Control, Real Racing) to create a game that is entertaining and yet promotional / informative, you come with an spectacular free app. 

Moreover, RR GTI includes adverts inside the game. Well, the game and the race itself. This is an obvious trick, since motor sports are full of ads and sponsor logos, but this, somehow gives it realism. You even have BOSCH logos in the track! See the screenshot gallery here to see what I'm talking about.This is integration.  By the end of the day, you get an amazing free game that is going to rocket to the #1, get media attention and that the casual gamer will love.