UPS pays to race delivery truck in video game

Brown delivery vehicle is a star of NASCAR 06

September 01, 2005|By COX NEWS SERVICE

ATLANTA - Buttoned-down UPS is handing video gamers the keys to its boxy brown delivery trucks. In return, it expects excessive speeds, dent-free driving and a whole lot of brand awareness.

The delivery giant paid to have a depiction of a UPS delivery truck embedded in the latest edition of a popular racing video game for Xbox and PlayStation2 console systems. The game, NASCAR 06: Total Team Control, is expected to be on store shelves nationwide by today.

Price not disclosed

UPS wouldn't disclose the price for the product placement, but spokeswoman Susan Rosenberg said the cost exceeds what UPS shells out for a single airing of a national television spot.

The last edition of the game sold more than 1 million copies, and maker Electronic Arts of Redwood City, Calif., predicts that it will sell at least as many of the new version. The title tends to skew toward men 18 to 36 years old.

UPS already is tight with the racing crowd. In addition to being the official express delivery company of NASCAR, the company in Sandy Springs, Ga., is the primary sponsor of a car driven by Dale Jarrett and has run a multimillion-dollar ad campaign that includes riffing on the idea of Jarrett racing a UPS truck.

In the new video game, players can use a special code that allows them to drive a UPS truck rather than a race car.

Hmmm. A race car, or a Big Brown breadbox on wheels?

UPS expects driving Big Brown to be popular.

"It really extended the brand integration to a totally different platform for us," Rosenberg said. "Our objective is for awareness and for fans to have fun and to get their own thrill from racing the truck."

No damage allowed

No matter how gamers drive, though, the truck won't show any damage, said Jim Ferris, the game's product manager. That isn't unusual in the gaming world, he said. "A lot of car manufacturers do not allow their cars to be damaged," he said.

Corporate logos are hardly rare in video games. The NASCAR game, for example, shows names of many companies on cars, tracks and drivers' outfits - true to the logo-laden sport in real life.

But Ferris said only five companies are paying for product placement and getting special screen time: UPS, Dodge, Levi Strauss & Co., Old Spice and Mr. Clean - in which players can employ an entire pit crew of bald Mr. Cleans.

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