To promote its latest model, Range Rover created an experience that pits driver against sun. From the moment the hero of this interactive film hops into his vehicle, he’s in a race to make it to his destination before the celestial light sets for the day. This being a car ad, our main man is faced with all manner of obstacles and rough terrain on the way to his unknown destination. This being an interactive experience, users can get in on the fun as well by using a mobile phone as a game controller to play along: swipe to dodge falling tires; tap to shift gears and tilt to match the wheels’ traction while traversing rocky terrain.
Marc Sobier, global creative director of Y&R New York, says Land Rover USA was looking for a game to engage its mobile-savvy consumers and showcase the Range Rover’s superior stability, road performance and steering. Just what type of game to create, however, took some consideration.
“We’d seen a lot of early ideas that were more video game-like, where you push left and the car goes left. But you run into trouble there because there’s the potential of someone crashing the car,” says Sobier. And crashing the car was out of the question.
“One major breakthrough came when we decided to make the action of the games ‘follow’ the action of the film, rather than trying to make the games control the film,” says Mark Pytlik, CEO of digital agency Stinkdigital. Layering the gameplay overtop of the film let users play and watch at the same time.
“This meant making the interactions relatively simple so that the user’s attention could stay on the desktop rather than on their phone.” The phone and film were connected using websockets technology, which enables the pairing of two devices in a bi-lateral fashion, meaning “those two devices can communicate in both directions, as opposed to the traditional unidirectional method of http,” says Pytlik.
“It was the optimal solution for an experience such as this, and gave us the ability to turn the interactive pieces into viable, playable games.”
The buzz-kill and the bonus
Sobier says the goal was to use all of the gestural functions native to smartphones in the gameplay. “Race the Sun” succeeds with one notable exception: “We really wanted to make it vibrate like it would if you were playing with a console controller, but we found out that unless you do an app, you don’t have control of the phone’s vibration device.” That said, Sobier says the client was ecstatic with the 360-degree interior and exterior created by Stinkdigital. “Typically they look very computer generated and I haven’t seen anything like this one before. That was a nice surprise along the way.”
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This story is set to appear in the January/February issue of Marketing, available on newsstands and iPad soon.