Play an iPhone game, win a car? It sounds too good to be true.
But to launch its new 2010 GTI hatchback, Volkswagen is relying solely on a free iPhone game. If you play it, you could win one of six limited-edition GTI models.
Available in Apple's App Store starting today, Volkswagen of America, Inc.'s Real Racing GTI App challenges players to race virtual GTIs around a racetrack. The more you play, the more points you build up. And each week for six weeks, the company will reward the week's top player with his or her own real car.
As they compete, players can share videos of their game play with friends on YouTube. They can also carry the competition over to Twitter and send messages to other players.
In an effort to reach a young, tech-savvy demographic, Volkswagen hopes the iPhone and iPod Touch will be more effective than traditional Web and TV ads.
"With the personalization of media and the challenges inherent with reaching constantly connected consumers, we tasked ourselves to rethink the way we launch vehicles in order to engage our consumers in a meaningful way," Tim Ellis, vice president of marketing for Volkswagen of America, Inc., said in a statement. "Launching the all-new 2010 GTI via the Real Racing GTI App allows us to connect with this savvy GTI consumer within his or her everyday life in a way that no 30-second spot ever could."
Volkswagen isn't the first to use an iPhone application to launch a product. The sports clothing company PUMA has released an iPhone app to promote its new line of bodywear. And, earlier this month, Pepsi released a controversial app that claimed to help men "score" with women to help generate buzz around its new energy drink.
Here is a sampling:
Last week, developers released an application that promises to remotely unlock, start and warm your car from almost anywhere in the world.
Called Viper SmartStart, the app was launched earlier this week by Directed Electronics, a vehicle security and remote start systems designer, and can be downloaded for free from Apple's App store.
Using an existing remote car starting system from Viper, with a tap of a few buttons on your iPhone, your car can be started, warmed up and humming, just waiting for you to hit the road.
Although remote starting systems for cars usually have a limited line-of-sight range, Viper says its system has "virtually unlimited range" since your iPhone, not the original remote, communicates over cell networks with your car.
"We think customers will find all sorts of unique and personal value in Viper SmartStart," Mike Simmons, EVP of Directed Electronics' parent company, DEI Holdings, said in a statement. "Whether helping out her husband, who's locked his keys in the car, or securely locking her keys and purse in the car while she takes a jog with some music on her iPhone, we expect to hear about some uses we never anticipated."
Once the Viper SmartStart hardware is professionally installed in the car, the iPhone can also be used to defrost windows, cool down the vehicle in warmer weather, unlock the trunk or activate a panic alarm.
But though the app is free, the hardware that will actually make it work with your car is quite pricey.