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GT Academy.. From Virtual to Reality!

Nissan North America, Inc. (NNA), in collaboration with Sony Computer Entertainment America LLC (SCEA) and Polyphony Digital Inc., today announced the premiere of GT Academy USA, a reality show that takes 16 Gran Turismo 5 gamers and gives them a chance to become a professional race car driver. The program will be featured as a five-part reality series on SPEED TV beginning September 20.

This is beyond your dream job. Can a video game develop the skills needed to become a professional racecar driver? To find out, Nissan has brought America’s fastest 16 out of nearly 54,000 Gran Turismo 5 gamers who participated in a National tournament and thrown them into a competition for a shot at becoming a motorsports professional. England’s legendary Silverstone Circuit is the battleground for these contestants as they clash in challenges on and off the racetrack. Judging them along the way are some of the biggest names in motorsports: Danny Sullivan, Tommy Kendall and Liz Halliday.

GT Academy USA is divided into three phases: tournament, driver development and reality show. Content is collected from each phase and is culminated with a reality show scheduled to air on SPEED, which will announce the season one winner of GT Academy USA. The five-part episode will make its debut on September 20. Originally launched in Europe in 2009, GT AcademyUSA is being brought to the U.S. for the first time. GT Academy USA was built and adapted to appeal to the local audience for racing and gaming, while maintaining the universality of its promise to take a fan’s dream of racing to another dimension.

“GT Academy USA will create a life changing experience for gamers, celebrating the authenticity of Gran Turismo 5 for Sony PlayStation, and real life racing and performance, innovation for Nissan,” said Jon Brancheau, vice president of marketing for Nissan North America, Inc. “GT Academy USA is a mesh of gaming, branded entertainment, and social media, all designed to entertain, engage, and reward the audience across multiple platforms from gaming consoles to social networks and primetime.”GT Academy USA digital efforts spanned across several auto and gaming enthusiast sites and a custom Nissan site. To maximize excitement around the tournament we created a custom GT Academy USA driving tips and sign up process video.
The campaign was created in conjunction with Nissan, SCEA, Polyphony Digital Inc., OMD, TBWA\Chiat\Day Los Angeles, Critical Mass and @radical.media and Directed By Jeff Zwart. GTA is being supported by multi-media including: TV campaign across multiple networks, video seeding and behavioral targeting and on sites such as Facebook and YouTube.

Phase 1:
Nearly 54,000 registered to compete and tried to make it to the National Finals in Orlando, Florida, where they battled head-to-head across a three-day live event held from March 22-23, 2011.

Phase 2:
GT Academy’s top 16 players were sent to an intensive seven-day racing academy at the world-renowned Silverstone Racing Complex in England. Players endured a series of elimination rounds, mental and physical aptitude tests designed to determine the GT Academy USA Champion. Each finalist built their race knowledge and encountered automotive challenges that put them to the test. Contestants were eliminated throughout the week until a final winner was crowned the GT Academy USA winner of Season 1.

Phase 3:
The program will be featured as a five-part series on SPEED beginning Tuesday, September 20 at 10 p.m. EDT. The final payoff, the winner will become a Nissan-sponsored professional racecar driver who will join the European GT Academy winners – forming a four person team that will race the legendary 24-hour race in Dubai.

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