More than 100 members of the gaming and automotive press made their way to the mouth of the Holland Tunnel last Wednesday, where Volkswagen launched both a tangible and video game version of its latest GTI model at the Classic Car Club. To cater to the tech savvy crowd, Volkswagen brought in G4TV's Olivia Munn to host, built several gaming stations, and filled the room with suggestions to guests to post comments about the party to Twitter.
As of the morning after the party, the 2010 GTI became the first vehicle launch on Apple's app store—with a role in a free version of the popular Firemint Real Racing game—so the mobile application was woven into the fabric of the party almost as much as the car itself.
Televisions throughout the showroom screened gameplay from Real Racing, invited guests to play for themselves, or showed a live feed of guests tweeting about the event. Small signs on the bar and at each table instructed guests to use the car's hash tag (#GTI2010) in their discussions of the event. At one point, the volume of postings even made it a trending topic on the Twitter home page.
Two of the new models were brought in for the launch, where they had the showroom floor to themselves. Guests and anyone who downloads the free game on iTunes over the course of the next month will have the opportunity to win one of the cars for themselves. Six of the cars will be given away throughout the promotional campaign.
Volkswagen's new GTI isn't just the first car to be promoted through the app store, it's also one of the only products to be solely marketed using free downloads for iPhones and iPod touches—a cost efficient move. Advertising Age reported that the 2006 campaign to launch the original GTI cost $60 million, and placed the price tag of the current initiative around $500,000.