Ever watched AMC’s hit show The Walking Dead and daydreamed about how you’d survive the zombie apocalypse? Would you hide out or hit the road? And if it’s the latter, how how would you trick out your vehicle to enhance your chances? As the third season of TWD launched this fall, those who’d prefer to put their fate in a vehicular survival strategy were able to create the ultimate zombie survival machine with The Walking Dead Chop Shop, from Hyundai. The site lets users affix more than 200 undead-destroying tools—from razor wire to hood-mounted assault rifles—to a Sante Fe vehicle.
The idea for the Walking Dead Chop Shop came from previous work that Innocean USA had done for the show. Last year, the agency partnered with Robert Kirkman—creator of the comic book from which the series spawned—on building a Zombie Survival Machine (ZSM) that was introduced at San Diego Comic-Con. To understand what fans really thought of the ZSM, Innocean digital producer Ashley Hadzopoulos says the agency went on fan forums and asked the fans directly. Their response? “They could design and build a better ZSM vehicle that would actually be able to survive a zombie apocalypse. So our team came together and started to design an app that would allow fans to do just that.”
Pimping the Ride
Since fans of the TWD universe are rabid, it was important everything was authentic, right down to the design, placement and use of the deadly chop shop parts. To build the app, Innocean partnered with Skybound, publishers of the TWD comic books, and illustrator Daniel Lim. The app uses a Unity Real Time 3D engine (which served as a single code base for all platforms) to display high quality graphics, and allows users to configure a car in real time, then spin it around and zoom in. “There are almost 900 different parts for fans to choose from when building their own ZSM, and each part has a funny story about its origins and utility,” says Hadzopoulos. “Users can zoom in really close and get all the gritty detail of each part.”
Hadzopoulos says the Chop Shop has been very popular. “As of mid-October, the app has been downloaded more than 180,000 times” and completed vehicles can be viewed online at WalkingDeadChopshop.com. There, vehicles are given a survivability rating based on defense, offense, speed and stealth. Of the created vehicles, one was crowned the winner at New York Comic-Con in October. The “Santa Fleeeee” created by user Anson K. received a 91% survivability rating, likely based on the fact that it’s kitted out with razor wire, a machine gun, a samurai sword, and no fewer that seven types of knives.
This story originally appeared in the Dec. 23 issue of Marketing