By Jennifer Karpus, Tire Business staff
CYPRESS, Calif. (Aug. 29, 2013) — Nitto Tire U.S.A. Inc. has unveiled Racing Rivals, a free-to-play mobile drag racing game for iPhones and iPads that is now available as a free download on the App Store.
Racing Rivals is an intense, high-speed game that was developed by Cie Games Inc. and sponsored by Nitto Tire.
Stephen Leu, marketing strategist for Nitto Tire, said Racing Rivals is different from other racing games because of the "hyper realism" it offers gamers because "they are racing real life vehicles inside the game."
There are more than 40 popular cars available from automotive giants such as BMW A.G., Honda Motors and McLaren Automotive Ltd.
Mr. Leu said players can then add different modifications, including tire changes.
"We integrated our brand into the game by allowing them to fix up their digital vehicle with Nitto products," he added.
Nitto tires available for use in the game are: Nitto NeoGen (All-season UHP tire); Nitto NT555 (Summer UHP tire); Nitto Invo (Luxury-sport UHP tire); Nitto NT05 (Summer max performance tire); Nitto NT01 (D.O.T. compliant road course radial); Nitto NT555R (D.O.T. compliant drag radial); and Nitto NT05R (D.O.T. compliant drag radial).
"They are all real tires that are available for purchase in the real world, but in this game, by people installing these tires, they get to experience it in a digital way," Mr. Leu said. "The traction and the performance these individual tires make."
He said they tried to make the performance as realistic as possible. Although consumers buying Nitto products is a "residual benefit" he foresees happening, but was not the main objective of the game.
Mr. Leu said Nitto wants to "create a real relationship with our customers, not just push advertising messages or marketing messages, but we want to provide them some kind of utility or some kind of a tool or benefit, even within our marketing."
"Nitto has always been the brand the swings way above its weight class."
He said the company is a "cutting-edge marketer" and wants the "Nitto brand to be relevant in contemporary times."
Mr. Leu said that eMarketer, a marketing firm, said that 2013 is the first year that consumers' time spent on digital devices (i.e. laptops, PCs, tablets and smartphones) surpasses any other traditional media.
This means that "people are spending more time on digital stuff than on TV or print or on radio.
"More specifically, the mobile arena has seen a growth of 400 percent since 2009," he added.
"It's a very natural course, mobile is our everyday companion."
He said most people might be surprised that it is not just teenaged phone users who are active with games, but rather, 50 percent of mobile game players are aged 25-44.
All of this was the inspiration behind Nitto teaming up with CIE Games to give consumers a source of utility. He said that there are many ways that brands can connect to their customers and that "people are tired of being spammed."
He said that although having a social presence is still very important, but it should not be the only focus because it's engagement is on it's "surface level."
Mr. Leu said that "Nitto is trying to interact with consumers" in a "very meaningful way."
He said one things he sees in the tire industry is that it is "kind of slow to catch on" to some marketing trends.
Mr. Leu added that even if a dealer creates a mobile e-commerce app for their store or delve into something more, this is where the marketing trends are heading.
"I would encourage (dealers) to get more involved in the mobile arena."
Mr. Leu said the game will be available for Google/Android products in "the near future."