Ford Issues ‘Supercar Challenge’

Ford Motor Company is giving Web users a virtual test drive of its new high-end sports car, the Ford GT, via a downloadable racing game.

The new multi-level game, dubbed the Supercar Challenge, is aimed at reaching both potential Ford buyers and youngsters who might aspire to buy a Ford in the future. Wild Tangent built the game and JWT Detroit is handling the overall communications plan.

Players participate in time trials, head-to-head competitions and circuit races across nine tracks. Besides the GT, users also get to virtually drive the Ford Focus ST and the Mustang. Success in lower levels of the game allow people to successively move up to more powerful vehicles.

“We recognize that we need to reach and engage the next generation of automotive consumers, and downloadable games have proven to be a successful way to achieve this,” said Marty Collins, general marketing manager of the Ford Division, in a statement.

Ford hopes to build a community around the game play. It’s posting a global leaderboard that records the best times achieved in each of the virtual vehicles on each of the tracks. Users can also send scores to friends and keep track of how they’re doing against one another.

Supercar Challenge is being distributed via the company’s Web site, fordvehicles.com, and a one-level teaser demo version is available at gaming sites Shockwave.com and IGN.com.

Earlier this week, Ford reported May sales were down 11 percent compared to a year ago. The company has been in a prolonged sales slump, with the new Mustang — which was up 47 percent over the year-ago period — the only bright spot in the Ford brand lineup.

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