Volkswagen wants to turn the countless hours that you’ll likely spend looking up marine-related facts online this week while watching Discovery Channel’s Shark Week into a game.
For the third year of its sponsorship of Discovery's annual summertime stunt, the automaker (along with agencies Deutsch L.A., MediaCom and Edelman) chose to push its new Golf TDI compact car, which claims to get 567 miles per tank of gas on the highway. To get that point across to viewers, a series of Web and tablet games have been set up on a microsite, one of which challenges players to continuously scroll using a mouse or trackpad for 567 miles—equivalent to nine hours of constant movement.
Not only do consumers need to keep their fingers moving to play, but they also need to set their pace within a certain speed limit. Boxes of text pop up along the course explaining features of the car, and if users finish, they can enter a sweepstakes for a chance to win $2,500 and be named the King of Shark Week.
Throughout the week, three different mini games will be unlocked. The second game tests hand-eye coordination; players sit behind the wheel of a Golf TDI and have five seconds to hit an icon that spontaneously pops up in the corner of the screen before they are eaten by a shark. The final game uses a built-in webcam to detect movements that help navigate a course.
The idea behind the games was to tap into some of the success that companies like Qwop and Cookie Clicker have seen with simple digital games. "We kind of want these to be second-screen, lightweight entertainment and engagement with the brand during Shark Week, so that’s our intent," said Winston Binch, chief digital officer of Deutsch L.A.
The German automaker has also developed branded video segments with the Discovery Channel that will be aired on TV and available on the microsite.
Volkswagen’s Shark Week campaign ties into a bigger partnership with the Discovery Channel this year. The brand is also involved with Discovery’s Dude, You’re Screwed show, which is a prank-themed survival program.
Volkswagen challenged the Dude, You’re Screwed team to drive around constantly—like a shark—all week. A total of three episodes will roll out during Shark Week, two of which are already live.
"With Shark Week, the idea is that sharks never stop moving. They have to constantly be in motion all the time," said Andy Pearson, creative director of Deutsch L.A.