Chevrolet Charges Volt Ad Campaign Using Microsoft Kinect's Gesture Interface

MediaPost notes: Reach out to an image on the television screen and wrap both hands around what appears as a steering wheel to test drive Chevrolet’s Volt electric car. The General Motors brand kicked off an advertising campaign that taps Microsoft’s controller-free Kinect add-on, announced earlier this month, for the Xbox 360. The video game allows consumers to act as stunt drivers through jumps and barrel rolls, using their bodies to control the car in the video game.

Demonstrated at The 2010 Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival Tuesday, the campaign launches this summer, running across PC, mobile and TV screens.

XBOX 306 Kinect Joy Ride

Hal Riney and Partners created the multi-screen campaign, but will transition the project to Goodby, Silverstein & Partners in the coming weeks. It highlights a game module featuring a virtual Volt, “Kinect Joy Ride,” the first controller-free racing game from Microsoft Game Studios. Consumers can play the game after viewing a video advertisement in-dash on Xbox LIVE or on the Web, unlocking the car in “Kinect Joy Ride” game to virtually drive the car.

There’s no better tool to launch the Chevrolet Volt than another technical innovation, according to Steve Rosenblum, director of advertising sales and promotions at Chevrolet. “It gives us a leg up in consumers’ minds,” he says. “Where we go from here will really be the culmination of the advertising team, Microsoft and the new agency hired to manage the campaign.”

The campaign also makes Chevrolet the first automaker to incorporate a branded advertising experience for the new Windows Phone 7, demonstrating at the festival how the campaign can run across PC, mobile and TV. The campaign also relies on Microsoft’s Pivot technology that taps Microsoft Silverlight to view items in high resolution.

Pivot, a visual search engine, allows people to make sense of large bodies of data and information. Finding a car can become one of the more intimidating research products that someone might undertake on the Web, according to Dean Carignan, director of strategy for advertising and Microsoft gaming properties.

The interactive campaign, which Microsoft began work on earlier this year, brings consumers into the experience through multiple devices to reinforce an emotional bond between the brand and consumers.

The Volt campaign will debut through Starcom across MSN and MSN Autos, Xbox LIVE and a custom Chevrolet advertising microsite. Mobile and Surface technology integrations follow. The companies could also put kiosks or Surface tables running Kinect at promotional events and car showrooms to demonstrate the car line.

In the long term, the vision could take consumers through the Xbox 360 game experience into a design and a shopping experience. Chevrolet and Microsoft have not reached the point of allowing consumers to build and buy the car, but that could come in time, especially on mobile devices. It will come down to the development cycle for the campaign and whether both companies can meet the launch date.

For now, the design and shopping experience remains a vision. But the Chevrolet-Microsoft partnership presents “tremendous opportunity,” Rosenblum says. “It would be really cool to design or build the car on your cell phone or go to a dealership and design and build it there.”