Volkswagen’s Virtual GTI Launch

Volkswagen is promoting its 2010 GTI vehicle by putting consumers behind the wheel of a new iPhone application. The free Real Racing GTI app lets users race against other cars and post their time on an online leaderboard. The company hopes to engage consumers by targeting social networking sites, allowing players to post their racing videos on YouTube and communicate with competitors on Twitter.

“Our audience is very wired, they are demanding and sophisticated technophiles and for them, media consumption is higher in digital than in broadcast,” said Charlie Taylor, general manager for Volkswagen’s digital marketing. “We initiated the close partnership with Apple to design something that’s the best with the hope that it climbs up onto the leader boards in the app store so that its visible.”

Players who download the app will be eligible for the 2010 GTI sweepstakes, which gives away a 2010 GTI Limited Edition Model every week for six weeks beginning Nov. 2nd. Each day that a player finishes a lap in the Real Racing GTI game he or she can enter into the sweepstakes.

Taylor pointed to market research as key in their decision to creating an iPhone app as a promotion. According to what VW found, half of the 20-25 million Apple iPhone and iPod Touch users are male, and a significant portion are part of the 30 to 40 something age of the company’s target audience.

“The GTI is not a mass vehicle so we can get hyper-focused on marketing,” said Taylor. “This is the entire investment, it is a fraction of the cost for the standard automotive vehicle launch, but we did not do this for financial reasons, we do truly believe that this is one of the new forms of marketing and hyper targeting and digital allows us to do this.”