Seeking to connect with a younger generation of potential tire buyers, Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. is partnering with Electronic Arts Inc. (EA) to have Cooper tires and Cooper signage included in the latest version of EA's popular ``Need for Speed'' video game series.
In essence, Cooper has secured product placement in the virtual world of the Need for Speed video games, said Phil Caris, vice president, sales and marketing for Cooper. The partnership starts with Need for Speed Carbon, which debuted Nov. 1.
Cooper has an in-game presence in the form of car decals, 10 branded billboards and three storefronts throughout the game's cityscape as well as a Cooper-branded race. Additionally, the Cooper Zeon 2XS-the tire used by all Cooper-sponsored drifters in the ``real world''-is featured in the game's only drift track setting.
For talented gamers, a set of Cooper Zeon ultra-high-performance tires can be unlocked for use during the latter stages of the game.
``Our deep product integration into the best-selling racing game title to date provides us another unique touch point in which gamers can interact with the Cooper Tires brand in a positive, non-traditional manner,'' said Dave S. Craig, director of North American advertising for Cooper Tire, during the recent Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show in Las Vegas.
``The Need for Speed series has a large and dedicated fan base that will be exposed to the level of quality and performance that our tires offer-both on the screen and in real life.''
EA projects sales of Need for Speed Carbon-which features both city street and canyon racing-could hit 11 million, a total that would translate into more than 1 billion impressions, Cooper said.
The company did not divulge the cost of its involvement.
According to the Entertainment Software Association, 69 percent of American heads of households play video and computer games and 69 percent of gamers are 18 years of age or older, Cooper said.
The tire maker activated its in-game integration through a 16-mall gaming tournament in association with Mazda North American Operations in October in 16 of the top 17 markets in the U.S. The winners of each regional event received a trip for two to Las Vegas, admission for two to a Mazda Party, a $500 Cooper Tire gift certificate good toward a new set of tires, a $50 GameStop Gift Card and the Need For Speed Carbon game.
Need for Speed Carbon is available for Xbox 360 video game and entertainment system, PlayStation3 computer entertainment system, and Wii as well as the PlayStation2 computer entertainment system, Xbox videogame system from Microsoft Corp., Nintendo GameCube, Nintendo DS, GameBoy Advance, PSP (PlayStation Portable) hand-held entertainment system, PC and mobile.