For Kia motors’, TI creates augmented reality application on Facebook

Players Race the Kia Soul Hamsters in Brand-Building Game For the Social Web – and Get to Face Down Their Foes

LOS ANGELES (August 5, 2009) – Set your mouse aside, there’s a new rodent at the keyboard – and this one’s got legs.  Kia Motors’ first taste of augmented reality in the social media arena pits consumers in a race with the Kia Soul hip-hop hamsters in a game created for Facebook® – and, appropriately enough, one in which the player’s face can make all the difference.

In association with digital marketing agency Initiative and creative agency David & Goliath, Total Immersion (www.t-immersion.com) has unveiled the new D’Fusion@Home Facebook application, called “Go Hamster Go!”  The game marks the first use of augmented reality in a Kia application for a social media environment — and adds to the cool factor with “game changing” face tracking.  The application is available now on the social networking site (www.facebook.com/kiasoul) under the Go Hamster Go! tab.

In a tie-in to Kia Motors’ launch of its new Soul, the in-page Facebook application supports an interactive game featuring the animated hamsters that also appear in Kia’s television commercial for the youth-oriented car.  The TV spot depicts hip-hop hamsters in a Soul outracing and out-styling their treadmill-bound fellow rodents.

Kia Facebook application

Kia Facebook application

Working with Initiative and D&G, Total Immersion developed Go Hamster Go!, placing any user with a Webcam-enabled computer (and a nose for competition) inside the action.  The wrinkle here is that, unlike any other interactive game, the player controls the action with his or her face.  A virtual magnet “connects” to the player’s forehead, which the player uses to grab and transport the hamsters safely into their new Kia Soul as an onscreen clock ticks down.

Each hamster wears a colored tee mirroring a Soul color, and when the user drops a hamster into the vehicle, the vehicle morphs into that color.  The exit window lists the final score – and the cool features the user managed to add to the Soul.  Users can post their scores on the Soul leaderboard and can challenge friends to compete and beat their scores.

“Facebook is an ideal platform for augmented reality, hitting the right demographic for the Soul launch with a game that extends our broadcast ad campaign while maintaining the fun, hip vibe that is so much a part of the brand,” said Michael Sprague, vice president, marketing of KMA.  “This is the ultimate five-minute drill – the game shows the look and dimensions of the car in various colors, while creating opportunities for users to gain more points by engaging with the cool features of the vehicle.  We are challenging users to compete with their friends on Facebook while becoming fans of Soul.”

“With ‘Go Hamster Go!’ in the Facebook environment, Kia Motors has inspired the next evolution in augmented reality on the social web, where consumers congregate,” said Bruno Uzzan, co-founder and CEO, Total Immersion.  “Most Facebook apps are fairly simple.  But with ‘Go Hamster Go!’ we’re turning a ‘hand-to-mouse’ existence into an interactive event, making it possible to explore the car in a dynamic new way, all the while bringing our face recognition technology to a mass market application.”

”This digital application is a milestone,” said Michael Hayes, EVP, Managing Director, Digital Communications, Initiative. “It leverages the popularity of Facebook and social media gaming to create a unique and engaging experience for users to connect one-on-one with the Kia Soul.”

“Facebook is an ideal platform for augmented reality, hitting the right demographic for the Soul launch with a game that extends our broadcast ad campaign while maintaining the fun, hip vibe that is so much a part of the brand,” said Michael Sprague, vice president, marketing of KMA.  “This is the ultimate five-minute drill – the game shows the look and dimensions of the car in various colors, while creating opportunities for users to gain more points by engaging with the cool features of the vehicle.  We are challenging users to compete with their friends on Facebook while becoming fans of Soul.”

“With ‘Go Hamster Go!’ in the Facebook environment, Kia Motors has inspired the next evolution in augmented reality on the social web, where consumers congregate,” said Bruno Uzzan, co-founder and CEO, Total Immersion.  “Most Facebook apps are fairly simple.  But with ‘Go Hamster Go!’ we’re turning a ‘hand-to-mouse’ existence into an interactive event, making it possible to explore the car in a dynamic new way, all the while bringing our face recognition technology to a mass market application.”

“This digital application is a milestone,” said Michael Hayes, EVP, Managing Director, Digital Communications, Initiative. “It leverages the popularity of Facebook and social media gaming to create a unique and engaging experience for users to connect one-on-one with the Kia Soul.”

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