Time for America’s Cup revenge: Vodafone creates mobile sailing game, gives kiwis chance to take on Jimmy Spithill

On 25 September 2013, skipper Jimmy Spithill led Oracle Team USA to victory in the final race of the America’s Cup, orchestrating one of the unlikeliest comebacks in sporting history while simultaneously breaking the hearts of every Kiwi that had stopped working to watch the race.

Undoubtedly, there are more than a few sailing fans who would go to great lengths to take on Spithill and reclaim New Zealand’s honour. So, in a new mobile campaign launched on 14 October, Vodafone is giving Kiwis a chance to do just that. 

But to take on Spithill in a live race, Kiwis first need to show their thumb-tapping prowess by playing Vodafone’s new America’s Cup-themed sailing game hosted on the microsite Vodafonesailing.co.nz.

Kiwis that give the game a shot will have their names listed on the leader board, and the top ten eligible players will be invited to create an entertaining sailing commentary video. And we can only hope that some of these videos compare to a certain Irishman’s hilarious observations on a sport that is sometimes very difficult to understand.

The lucky Kiwi who submits the best video entry will then get to play the game for real, directing the TeamVodafone Sailing 60-foot trimaran using a Samsung Galaxy Note 4 while in a helicopter above the course in the Hauraki Gulf – all in a bid to beat Jimmy Spithill, who’ll be doing the same.

“Vodafone has come up with a race that’s high tech, completely unique and open to Vodafone customers,” said Spithill in a release. “But as you know, I’m always one to rise to the challenge – and I’m convinced I’ll get the TeamVodafone Sailing trimaran around the course faster than anyone.”

In addition to once again drawing attention to Vodafone’s 4G network, this campaign also aims to draw attention to the capabilities of Samsung’s new piece of technological wizardry.

“This is another first from Vodafone, powered by our leading, superfast 4G network,” says Matt Williams, Vodafone’s consumer Director. “We’re excited to have Samsung on board to give Kiwis the chance to do something inspired by leading innovative technology.  The Samsung GALAXY Note 4 has an incredible 5.7 inch Quad HD AMOLED display, making it the perfect device to steer New Zealand’s largest remote control boat.”

Interestingly, the game, which was created by Gladeye as part of an overarching campaign led by creative agency True, responds to live weather conditions, meaning that the wind could play a major role in how well competitors do. Players get live wind readings from the Hauraki Gulf and harness these readings to work their way around the course. In addition, the wind will also impact the mobile media that’s running as part of the campaign, in the sense that Vodafone will be running more ads when the wind is up and fewer when it’s down. 

“We wanted our mobile display media to tell people when the wind is high and they’re more likely to get on the leaderboard,” says Gladeye’s chief executive Tarver Graham. “We’d initially conceived banner ads with dynamic creative showing the actual wind speed in the banner. Then we realised we could link our wind speed variable with programmatic APIs for Google Display Network to automatically run more mobile ads when the wind is up, and fewer ads when it’s low – driving more traffic to the game when players are likely score better times.”

The mobile game will run until 24 October, upon which the ten finalists will be announced. These elite sailors will then be given until 28 October to submit their videos, and the final race featuring Spithill will occur on 30 October. 

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