Automotive care product maker Meguiar's Inc., a subsidiary of 3M Company (NYSE: MMM), has teamed up with Microsoft Corporation's (Nasdaq: MSFT) Turn 10 studios, maker of the popular Forza series of car racing video games, to cross-promote the Meguiar's and Forza brands. The relationship has benefited the seemingly strange bedfellows in radically different industries.
Meguiar's, founded in 1901, is best known as a producer of car waxes, chrome polish, leather conditioners and other car care accessories, products that appeal to established car owners, particularly men who are at least 45. Turn 10's Forza 4 video game appeals to a different prime demographic, men between 18 and 34.
To access Forza's customers, Meguiar's partnered with Turn 10 to produce a downloadable content (DLC) pack that adds 10 new cars to the game, sponsored by Meguiar's. The goal is to "expand our reach. The youth audience has increasingly become more important to us," Meguiar's associate director of public relations R.J. De Vera said Tuesday.
The Meguiar's branded Forza 4 DLC pack was released in June and included new cars for the game such as the Chevrolet Corvette Racing ZR1, 1959 BMW 507, 2011 Aston Martin Cygnet, 2012 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG Black Series and 1963 Volkswagen Beetle.
The relationship is a win-win for both brands, allowing Meguiar's and Forza to reach audiences they would not normally have access to. Meguiar's believes that the Forza 4 DLC pack is an important part of developing early brand awareness that will be necessary to draw members of the 70 million-strong millennial generation, sometimes called generation Y.
"It's a multistep process with young people. Today it's not just product performance but how they feel about a brand," De Vera said, adding that a feeling of "authenticity" was particularly important to younger consumers, like those in the Forza 4 community. Turn 10 releases a co-branded DLC pack each month following the release of a game, and the packs, which cost around $10 in Xbox live points, are usually downloaded around 100,000 times, according to De Vera.
The collaboration between Meguiar's and Turn 10 was a natural fit, given that De Vera was a development consultant for earlier iterations in the Forza series.
"When he moved over to Meguiar's, it just made sense to see what we could do," Turn 10 studios senior partner manager Kim Wolfkill said Thursday. Turn 10 had a game sled in the Meguiar's VIP section at last year's Specialty Equipment Market Association conference.
Turn 10 produces a DLC pack for each month. Each pack has 10 new cars in it and is "comfortably in six figures" in cost to produce, according to Wolfkill. The benefit to Forza is that it keeps its community engaged with the game by ensuring that there is always new content until the next version of the game is released (a new game, Forza Horizon, is due out in Fall 2012).
"A key differentiator with the Forza franchise is we come out with new content all the time," Wolfkill said. Partnering with established brands like Meguiar's "does bring us credibility and it brings us authenticity," important factors when engaging with the millennial generation.
The relationship between Turn 10 and Meguiar's can only be described as symbiotic. Meguiar's pays nothing for the DLC pack branding, and Turn 10 gets a marketing partnership with an established brand. Both brands are able to reach demographics outside of their primary audience through the DLC pack relationship, and they are considering retail deals with Meguiar's products. Meguiar's receives promotion on Xbox live, which has over 40 million registered users, and Turn 10 guarantees that its Forza games will receive exposure within the established automotive community, which is highly important for a game that relies on the participation of brands and manufacturers to lend authenticity to the in-game driving and racing experience.
"It's a wide net for us that we're very excited about," De Vera said. "It's definitely a win-win for Meguiar's and Forza."
Moreover, for Meguiar's the Forza games act as a content driver, bringing new consumers to the car care company's social media outlets to participate in game-based photo and livery contests, according to De Vera. The relationship has proved beneficial to both companies, and they plan on continuing it after the release of Forza Horizon with another DLC pack and possible in game branding by Meguiar's (ads displayed on the walls of racetracks, for instance).
"Now that we've started doing this, we can count on working with Meguiar's" Wolfkill said.
Microsoft Corporation (NYSE: MSFT) shares rose 22 cents to $30.67 Thursday. 3M Company (NYSE: MMM) shares fell 4 cents to $90.83.
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