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Volkswagen encourages new Polo virtual test drive on iPhone

Volkswagen is using the mobile channel to drive sales of its new Polo car model which premiered at the Geneva Motor Show on March 3.

The German automaker launched a 3D racing game called "Volkswagen Polo Challenge" that is now available in Apple's App Store. The idea behind the application is to position Volkswagen as an innovative brand and to generate leads, dealer contacts and test drives.

"Volkswagen has employed mobile marketing activities for several years now and with growing intensity, for example mobile long-lead campaigns, mobile advertising, Bluetooth advertising, mobile games," said Markus Arand, head of newsroom for Volkswagen brand and product communications in Hamburg, Germany.

"Recently we launched the Volkswagen mobile Internet platform that includes global information about Volkswagen in general, Volkswagen models and services especially for mobile devices," he said.

The Volkswagen Polo's low-emission, fuel-efficient engines paired with intelligent styling are said to set new standards in the fifth-generation Polo. A total of seven engines will be offered on the new Polo -- four gasoline and three diesel engines -- ranging from 44 kW/60 PS to 77kW/105 PS in power output.

The iPhone application was developed by Fishlabs, a developer and publisher of 3D mobile games.

The Volkswagen application provides pure racing game fun with the new Polo on eight detailed, animated tracks for the iPhone and iPod touch.

The difficulty increases with every course and only those who drive a best time will be rewarded with a new track.

The realistic four-point driving physics and the innovative controls -- steering is done by tilting the iPhone or iPod touch -- are impressive.

Th Volkswagen Polo Challenge is designed to offer the perfect combination of sporty driving fun, attractive design and quality.

Those who want to test drive the new Polo in real life, and not just virtually, can use the game menu to navigate to the nearest Volkswagen dealer via GPS and Google Maps.

Volkswagen has used the mobile channel in the past.

In April, the automaker tapped image recognition software provider MyClick for a mobile campaign in China.

Volkswagen used MyClick's service to reach out to prospective Skoda consumers to improve its service quality.

The automaker placed a call-to-action on its Web site asking people to take a picture of the Skoda logo and send that picture via SMS to a short code. The consumer was then sent a page where he or she could schedule a test drive in their area (see story).

Volkswagen isn't the only carmaker using mobile to drive sales.

German luxury marquee Porsche used mobile as part of a bigger, multichannel campaign to promote its luxury vehicles as affordable.

Porsche's "I Can" campaign targeted mobile consumers on and Yahoo and encouraged consumers to click on banner ads that said "You can own one, click to see how" and "Can you afford a Porsche? Just say 'I can.'"

The four-month-long mobile initiative outperformed Porsche's broader campaign (see story).

Also, Ford Flex recently saw a 1.41 percent click-through-rate from a mobile campaign that Ford Motor Co. used to promote the launch of the new car model by driving consumers to the Flex WAP site.

The three-month nationwide campaign optimized engagement on sites that combined a high-income audience together with stylish trendsetters. More than 3.5 million impressions were served (see story).

"The Volkswagen Polo Challenge is suitable for all ages," said Michael Schade, CEO of Fishlabs Entertainment, Hamburg, Germany. "We are not fixed on a special customer. Everybody who likes racing games can have fun with this app.

"We hope the app will drive people to Volkswagen dealers so they can get a closer look at the new Polo and maybe buy it," he said.

Mickey Alam Khan reported.