Buick Makes First Gaming Foray

NEW YORK Buick is not exactly the first car choice among the Xbox generation. But the General Motors brand thinks it can find 30-something car buyers with a new video-game promotion.
Buick is in the midst of a gaming competition it kicked off with EA Sports to coincide with its sponsorship of the Buick Invitational golf tournament, held last weekend. It is challenging Xbox 360 players of the “Tiger Woods PGA Tour 08” game to record clips of them completing challenges, such as making a hole-in-one, for an opportunity to win a Buick Enclave.
The promotion, which concludes on Feb. 6, is part of Buick’s entry into video-game advertising. It includes placements within the “Tiger Woods” game. It is part of an effort to widen the appeal of the brand from its current demographic base, which averages in the early 50s. While acknowledging that those in their early 20s are unlikely to buy a $37,000 Enclave, marketing director Maria Rohrer said Buick realized the gaming demographic was much wider than its young-male reputation.
“The gamer demographic is increasingly getting older,” she said.
The contest looks to meld Buick’s real-world rewards program, Buick Clubhouse, with the virtual gaming environment. Players are rewarded points for meeting challenges that can be redeemed to add skill points to their game player or get items. The real-life Buick Clubhouse program offers members discounts on golf gear, greens fees and tickets to PGA events.
“It’s very realistic for gamers to see something that takes place in the real world,” said Matt Story, a director at Play, part of Publicis Groupe digital media consultancy Denuo, which crafted the video game promotion for Buick. “It makes the game more realistic.”
To build awareness of the contest, Buick is running ads on EA Sports Web sites, Xbox.com and related sites. It is also promoting it to gaming blogs.
Rohrer acknowledges the promotion is an “experiment” that is unlikely to make a major impact on Enclave sales.
“Golf is the biggest promotional platform we have,” she said. “It was intended to amplify the larger golf efforts we have.”