An interesting brand has be seen this year at the SXSW, the annual music, film, and interactive conference and festival in Austin. The conference might seem like an odd place for a motor oil brand presence, but it looks like Shell-owned Pennzoil might have the coolest activation around: Mario Karting Reimagined.
“Mario Karting Reimagined” is an activation that will let people jump inside a life-size Mario Kart for a racing experience. The karts feature RFID technology that communicates between the vehicle, the track and icons on the course. Those icons, there are eight in total, include the game familiar “red turtle shell” and “banana peel.” For those of you who don’t know what these Mario Kart icons mean: while playing the race game you can throw a red shell and it will home in on random characters and send them flying straight up. Red shells moving around the surface are dangerous to all players. In addition, every player can throw banana peels and after being thrown it becomes an immobile hazard. Any kart that strikes the peel will spin out.
These are familiar for those who know the game. Pennzoil added some own icons as well that will speed up the kart’s performance. The races will be simulcast on screens nearby and in the festival’s main building at the Austin Convention Center.
What do you think of the appearance of Pennzoil at the SXSW conference? Do you think it is a clever marketing move?