bY David Wiszniowski

I’d like to start this entry by saying that I’m not a huge fan of AMC’s ‘The Walking Dead’. While I do enjoy a good zombie now and then (and can often relate to their lethargic demeanor) I was never captivated by the show.

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That said, I do admire the shows premise, and , as I have been on a little market segmentation kick lately, appreciate the societal constructs within the shows representations of various ‘personalities’ in its post-apocalyptic setting. I am by no means a television critic, (I still watch Survivor) and that’s good because this posting isn’t actually about the show itself. Instead, it will focus on a recent gamified marketing exploit put on by Hyundai in partnership with ‘The Walking Dead’ and, through association AMC.

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The ‘Walking Dead Chop Shop’ is an interactive car building tool in which ‘players’ can transform one of three Hyundai models into rip-roaring zombie murder machines. In itself the app (or website), is pretty clever in that it is very similar to vehicle customization tools featured on the websites of different automobile manufactures. Personally, I find that this is a great concept for marketing because every once in a while I will actually visit these websites to construct cars to drool over. I’ve made Bugatti’s, Audi’s, and most recently a Dodge Challenger RTS – all from the lavish luxury of a stained and dirty bus seat.

I am going to call the ‘Walking Dead Chop Shop’ a game for a few reasons. First, it has a goal. The goal here is to build the most badass conduit of vehicular ‘zombicide’ you can, in efforts to win a trip for two to Comic-Con. Sadly, the contest in now closed and the winner has already been chosen. Next, the game has rules. You only have 5000 points to spend while creating your personal harbinger of destruction. These points can be spent on different items to customize said vehicle. The third aspect which makes this application a game is its inclusion of a feedback system. Hyundai states that players “will also have the opportunity to provide feedback (“Feedback”), such as by telling us what weapons would be best for arming your Vehicle.” The application also has a strong narrative and evokes an emotion of ‘I am going to kill so many f***ing zombies right now!’

So, we can see that this marketing application is a game, in general theory. What’s great about this application though, is that players can choose stock elements of the vehicles, the dealers offered upgrades, or completely outlandish instruments for killing zombies. Cars are rated on their survivability and provide players with a percentage concerning how likely they are to survive a zombie barrage. Similarly, the colours one can choose start with the industry colours of the vehicle and move onto more intricate designs, with higher point costs.

I’ve attached a picture of my completed car below (eat your heart out family-sized sedan), and, even though the contest itself is closed; I‘ve enjoyed playing the game. Well Hyundai may not be my first choice of ride in the event of a zombie cataclysm, this method of marketing did speak out to me. I think this is a great example of using games to collect data (as I’m sure Hyundai is collecting oodles of it) and letting consumers tell you what they want in their vehicles. As my boss would say, ‘telling without telling’.

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I will remember this game when buying a car, and will probably visit a Hyundai dealership now that I have played this game. I may even give ‘The Walking Dead’ another chance.