Chevy makes mobile pitch with baseball-focused iPhone app

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Chevy makes mobile pitch with baseball-focused iPhone app
Chevy makes mobile pitch with baseball-focused iPhone app

General Motors' Chevrolet brand launched the "Chevy Baseball" iPhone application this month. Gaming firm Freeverse and agency Small Planet Digital created the app, which has sweepstakes and data collection functions. Chevy's advertising AOR Campbell Ewald contributed to the effort.

The program is a simulation baseball game, featuring branded billboards and voiceover ads for Chevy, similar to announcements at a real game. The baseball tie-in is a natural fit for the brand, because Chevy is a core sponsor of Major League Baseball, said Ryan Zemmin, digital manager at Chevy.

"This is a way of getting our fans aware of our engagement with baseball in the digital space," he said. "It is an organic way to deliver content to people wherever they are."

Chevy's goal is to acquire new customers and retain loyal ones.

"The demographic of the folks who are walking around with iPhones in their pocket is a consumer demographic that is highly attractive to a lot of leading brands," said Gavin Fraser, CEO of Small Planet Digital.

To enter the contest, consumers must disclose their e-mail addresses. Chevy will remarket to entrants through e-mail.

Playing the game, consumers can access the "Chevy Dugout," where they can learn about vehicles, locate and click-to-call a dealer, and enter to win a trip to the 2010 All Star Game, which is scheduled to take place on July 13 in Anaheim, CA. Players can also send virtual postcards to social networks and share their scores through online scoreboards.

Zemmin said the opportunity to win tickets to one of baseball's marquee events is an incentive for consumers to download the application.

Chevy has an existing mobile-enabled website, but Chevy Baseball is only the company's second mobile application. Its first, "Chevy iReveal," was a location-based augmented reality scavenger hunt program built for the South by Southwest conference.

"As mobile changes and continues to grow, we continue to expand our presence," said Zemmin. "We are going to continue to develop applications that will engage our customers."

Although many brands believe iPhone games are more engaging than other channels, Chevy will be challenged by the fact that there are more than 100,000 applications available for the iPhone, including hundreds of baseball-themed games, said Julie Ask, VP and principal analyst at Forrester Research.

"Branded content can work great on the iPhone. Games or utility applications do well because they provide utility, even if the utility is entertainment, but there are lots of them out there," she said. "One of the challenges for Chevy is what can they offer that ESPN or Fox Sports isn't going to offer?"

Ask explained that the program could also appeal to consumers because it is free. However, it is still competing against thousands of other no-cost applications.

"The exposure could be very favorable for the brand, but they are competing with a lot of other free stuff," remarked Ask.

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