Gamers Gain Elite Status with Cadillac Campaign

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If you’re a race fan connected to Xbox Live, then you probably already know about the free downloadable Project Gotham Racing 3 (PGR3) Cadillac pack that contains playable versions of the Cadillac V-Series CTS-V, XLR-V, and STS-V automobiles. Part of the Cadillac Elite Campaign, it went live March 22, and it’s the kind of in-game advertising that both gamers and advertisers like to see.

Not only do gamers get great content (for free), but advertisers get their brands and products in front of millions of grateful gamers who are itching to take that 400 horsepower CTS-V for a spin on the Nürburgring. But what you might not realize is that the Cadillac pack is only the beginning of a push to brand the elite gamers as Cadillac Elite.

Cadillac Elite is being developed by Play, an operating unit of digital advertising and marketing firm Denuo, whose specialty is in-game advertising. The agency also ran the Pontiac March Madness NCAA 2K6 Virtual Final Four campaign. In addition to General Motors, Play also represents Proctor and Gamble. The Cadillac pack is a huge component of the initial Cadillac Elite campaign, but according to Saneel Radia, Play’s group director, there’s much more to come.

Building on its pack content, Cadillac is also sponsoring special Cadillac Challenge events where gamers compete for Cadillac Elite status by racing the V-Series cars on the Nürburgring F1 track. While the downloadable pack is available to all Xbox Live users, the overall campaign is aimed squarely at elite gamers. Only the top 100 Cadillac Challenge players gain Elite status and can claim the coveted Cadillac Elite gamer picture.

It’s a strategy designed to spur competition among gamers. As they scramble for “Elite” status, they’ll come to identify Cadillac as an Elite brand. “There’s an aspirational value to Cadillac as a brand,” Radia explains. “We need to convey how badass the Cadillac V-Series cars are. Everyone knows the Cadillac luxury, but what people might not realize about Cadillac is what it’s packing under the hood.”

PGR3 is a game of elites. Players race Ferraris, Aston Martins, Lamborghinis, Porsches, and now the Cadillac V-Series. Not only is free, fun, opt-in downloadable content good for getting players to interact with Cadillac products, but adding V-Series-specific events and Elite status is genius. The lure of Elite status will burn the Cadillac brand into the mind of anyone who gets pwned by a V-Series car.

“Our ultimate vision is to give these elite players access to exclusive events—Cadillac Elite events—where only certain groups are invited,” says Radia. “The gamer picture is step number one. Our ultimate goal here is actual physical game content.” That Elite gamer picture may eventually become a badge of honor, giving Cadillac Elite players access to events and content that other players will pine after.

Eventually, Play wants to bring the Cadillac Elite program to other online platforms in addition to Xbox Live. While Xbox Live currently stands alone, Play hopes to bring Cadillac Elite to the Sony online system once it’s developed. “Like any cutting edge marketing program, we’re in the process of evolving what Cadillac Elite is going to truly consist of,” adds Radia.

Saneel and his team want to eventually expand beyond Project Gotham 3. “PGR3 is basically version 1.0 of this Cadillac Elite idea. Hopefully, Cadillac Elite you’ll start seeing show up across multiple titles over the course of this next year,” Radia says. “The point is to associate with these elite gamers, [and] give them content that they like, but not necessarily only in a racing environment. We just started with that to kind of get that initial message out there about what the V-Series can do.”

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