E3 2012 Forza Horizon Event Recap

Every year game developers unveil their latest titles at the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles. This time around Turn 10 Studios and Playground Games premiered a brand new title, Forza Horizon. This spin-off to the popular Forza Motorsport franchise is all-new, but takes the game physics and characteristics that made the series a hit and added a lifestyle twist. To introduce and make a statement for the new title to the gaming industry, a marketing strategy was put into place for the tradeshow. I was brought in to help facilitate and manage the outdoors activation area for the 3-day event that included designing promotional shirts, hiring spokesmodels, securing display and “taxi” vehicles, production of the outdoor space – furniture, branding, etc and management of the photography and videography to document it all.

The outside activation area was located directly in front of the West Hall of the LA Convention Center and next to the Staples Center and included display vehicles, exotic car ride alongs, spokesmodels and more. We were able to secure a Platinum Motorsports SLR and Hennessey Ford GT1000 (Thanks to Jon and Don for the help) as the stars of the outside area. These two vehicles alone were worth over a million dollars and special care was provided to ensure their safety.

After securing the two hero cars, I then worked on finding the right vehicles that would attract attention be able to give attendees and VIPs ride-alongs through LA. A Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder, Audi R8 V10, Ferrari California and a BMW 6 Series convertible were chosen along with female drivers and one male driver to chauffeur the guests. Each vehicle including the star car a 2013 Dodge Viper received custom vinyl decals with the Forza Horizon branding in which we applied before the tradeshow making the cars instant billboards. Coordination of daily pick-ups and drop-offs of Microsoft VIPs was also scheduled daily so that they may arrive and leave the convention center in style. For all other attendees a social media promotion was set into place, guests would Tweet, Instagram or post onto their Facebook about their experience using the #forzahorizon to be eligible for a ride. The promotion paid off with hundreds of people spreading the word about the game.

Helping to attract attendees to the booth space and facilitate the activation were selected spokesmodels. I was able to select girls that I have worked with in the past or had a good resume of work that included motorsports and tradeshow experience. Needless to say they were a huge hit at the show. Guests in the activation area also were able to take photos with the models against the step and repeat backdrop next to their favorite vehicles with the photos being shown on the Facebook page along with a Forza Horizon watermark.

Part of the game experience takes part the Horizon festival, which is full of music and culture. Similar to a Coachella of sorts this inspired the overall theme of both the display and outfits of the models. The outfits were requested to be fun and fashionable – something you would have seen worn at a summer music festival and the models were each asked to bring their own outfits as well as we provided the shirts / tank tops and some clothing and accessories from H&M. The shirts along with the special promotional shirts I had designed by a good friend of mine that is not only a designer, but also a car guy and Forza fanatic, which added to the authenticity to the design.

With the perfect clear and sunny weather of California as the back drop, I brought in modern lounge furniture, music played the Forza Horizon soundtrack, a branded EZ-Up was created, festival style flags and two step and repeat walls were created for additional branding. Signage was created on A-frames to allow guests to know the various destinations along with a printed and laminated special “Ticket to Ride” that gave VIP guests an express pass to the front of the line, these guests included media members, celebrities and more.

Overall, the activation and tradeshow proved to be successful with many media and social media mentions along with various awards won for the game. The entire event was documented with photos and video with a teaser video showcased before the event and a highlight video being released shortly after the event concluded.