BMW has invested a large part of its global marketing budget for its new M3 Series Coupe in a computer game it hopes will help convince customers to invest in a $160,000 sports car.
The marque, known for its advertising innovation with initiatives such as BMW films, believes the high-end computer simulation will entice buyers for the car, which launches in Australia next month.
The game will be made available online and will appear on magazine cover-mount DVDs in coming weeks, with BMW launching the M3 in Australia at the Sydney Motor Show next month. The car maker joined forces with game manufacturer 10tacle to create a true computer simulation of what it is like to drive the car.
10tacle based the game on its successful GT Legends computer game and BMW Australia marketing director Tom Noble said it was a rare chance to give customers a virtual drive of the real thing.
"The tough thing for us is that not everyone gets the chance to test drive the car and how do I give somebody that experience without actually sending a car to them," Mr Noble said. "So if I can give them a pretty cool experience before they go look at a car it will make it even more interesting for them to come in for a test drive."
The game, which accurately renders the M3, its cockpit and the famed 22-km Nurburgring racetrack in Germany, will be the centrepiece of an online racing competition, allowing drivers from across the globe to compete against each other.
The promotion will end with the top 14 drivers in a world championship shoot-out, the winner of which is expected to be handed a real-life M3.
Mr Noble said the decision to create a BMW game played to the recent advertising heritage of the company.
"Like with BMW films, where we did short three-to-five-minute films by some of the top directors around the world, we are looking at different ways to stay innovative in communications and so this is a little bit of left field thinking," he said.
Where games had once been the domain of children, Mr Noble said the audience was now a perfect target for a prestige car maker.
"It's a really good vehicle to communicate. If you are 30, 35 or 40 years old today you played a lot of video games growing up, so it's certainly not just kids stuff any more," he said. "You are getting such a high level of realism at the moment and such a high level of interactivity it becomes a good way to experience it."
The game is available from: