Cannes, France-- Microsoft has lined up Chevrolet as the first ad partner attached to its Kinect Xbox 360 gaming interface.
Chevy's Volt electric car will appear as a product placement in "Kinect Joy Ride," one of the first games being designed for the Kinect sensor. The game will be published on November 3, the same date the Kinect device becomes commercially available and around the time the Volt arrives in dealerships. The campaign also spans other Microsoft platforms, including Microsoft's Surface touch-screen tables, MSN and MSN Autos, and Windows Mobile. On Windows Mobile, the Volt campaign will be the first mobile campaign to appear on Windows Mobile 7, due out this fall.
Previously codenamed Project Natal, Kinect is an Xbox add-on that enables controller-free game play by detecting motion and gestures with a camera sensor. Microsoft demoed the product, along with the Volt tie-in, today in Cannes.
When the game launches, Xbox owners will see a home screen ad placement promoting the game and the Volt brand integration. Clicking on the ad will take users to a landing page where they can receive a unique code that will unlock the Volt car, but only after watching a Volt ad on Xbox Live or on the Web.
Additionally, Chevrolet and Microsoft will set up Kinect kiosks at promotional events and showrooms so car buyers can play the game. And they are developing a mobile, in-game experience allowing players to add a Volt test-drive at a local Chevy dealer to their calendars.
Starcom handled media for the Volt campaign, which will officially launch in the fourth quarter. Some display ads will appear this summer however.
Mark Kroese, GM of Microsoft's entertainment and devices advertising group, said his team has been actively selling Kinect to advertisers going back about six months, but that internal talks go back further than that.
"We started getting involved about a year ago," Kroese said. "We're in the process of developing a fair amount of Kinect in-game advertising, as well. We're just at the tip of the iceberg there."
In-game ads leveraging Kinect's capabilities will be sold through Microsoft's Massive Inc. in-game ad network.
In the below video interview, Paul Edwards, executive director of marketing strategy with General Motors, speaks with ClickZ about the car maker's decision to become the first Kinect advertiser.
Follow Zach Rodgers on Twitter at @zachrodgers.
Until March 2012, Zach Rodgers was managing editor of ClickZ's award-winning coverage of news and trends in digital marketing. He reported on the rise of web companies, data markets, ad technologies, and government Internet policy, among other subjects.
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