Nissan’s Virtual-To-Real Racer Program Is Honored For Creativity

Nissan Europe and Sony Computer Entertainment Europe’s GT Academy 2010 program has just been honored at Cannes. The second series of the virtual-to-real racer competition was awarded a coveted Golden Lion for ‘Best Use of Branded Content’ at the 58th International Festival of Creativity.

The GT Academy 2010 TV series was picked up by over 160 broadcasters worldwide and generated immense media coverage. The event also proved to be a successful marketing vehicle for Sony’s Gran Turismo 5 video game.

The competition ran in 17 countries throughout Europe, as well as Australia and New Zealand. The fastest gamers from each territory competed in national finals events. The final race brought gamers to Silverstone and had them compete in a real-life race – after a bit of training.

Coverage of the GT Academy included five 24-minute TV episodes that allowed spectators to watch gamers vie to become real racing drivers. The inaugural GT Academy in 2008 was won by 23-year-old Spanish student Lucas Ordoñez, which recently took second place in the LMP2 class at this year’s Le Mans 24 Hours.

“It’s great to receive this prestigious award only 10 days after our historical podium at the Le Mans 24 Hours with our first GT Academy winner and only a few days after our new 2011 winner was announced at Silverstone,” said Darren Cox, Nissan International’s European chief marketing manager for sports cars. “It is testament to the ongoing success of the programme, a success that has taken five years of effort by a small, committed group of individuals. The Academy is a true example of Nissan’s ‘Innovation and Excitement for Everyone’ while we are also very proud that it is a joint initiative with an excellent partner in PlayStation.”

Sony Computer Entertainment’s Mark Bowles, who developed the concept with Darren Cox, added: “This is recognition for what has been an exciting, but challenging five years developing this project and delivering great content across multiple channels. PlayStation is all about delivering rich, innovative experiences and our close partnership with Nissan on GT Academy has enabled us to change the lives of two gamers, who can both now call themselves professional race drivers. GT Academy continues to grow due to the passion of all those involved and I am very excited about watching the progress of our latest winner as his journey begins.”