American oil company Pennzoil and Nintendo have partnered to bring SXSW attendees the chance to participate in a real-life Mario Kart race, reports Ad Age.
"Mario Karting Reimagined" will be open at SXSW starting this Friday, March 7 outside the Palmer Convention Center. The interactive installation is part of Pennzoil and parent company Shell's marketing efforts for its new natural gas-based fuel, Pennzoil Platinum with PurePlus Technology.
Participants will have the chance to drive one of four life-size Mario Karts — based on those used in the video games by Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach and Bowser — along a thousand foot-long track. "Elements" of upcoming series title Mario Kart 8 will also be shown on screens surrounding the track and GoPro cameras mounted on each kart will capture race footage and send it to participants after.
Each kart includes radio frequency identification technology the syncs up players' vehicles with icons placed along the track. These icons include the well-known banana peel and red shell, among other Mario Kart staple power-ups, and Pennzoil-branded icons that will improve a kart's performance.
"The icons not only help you through the game, but help you understand the tech within the product," said Perry Fair, president and CCO of Shell's agency JWT Atlanta. Fair explained the agency's sought to take Pennzoil's complex technology and turn it marketing into a more easily-understandable campaign.
Shell global brand manager Chris Hayek told Ad Age he didn't want "the formulaic launch for a motor oil." JWT creative director Jeremy Jones added that Pennzoil's partnership with Nintendo is meant to help the company "reach different audiences" for its product, with Hayek specifically mentioning young adults in the 18-24 age range.