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From Virtual to Reality

With over 40 years of racing innovation but no official team in the US, Nissan wanted to demonstrate their performance to an audience of passionate millennial drivers. With the launch of a new game, Sony wanted to demonstrate Gran Turismo was the most realistic driving simulator around.


What if video gamers had the skills to get into a real car and make it as a professional race car driver? To find out, Nissan and Sony teamed up to give gamers the chance to go from virtual to reality and win the dream job of millions - become a professional race car driver for Nissan - and it was all captured for a reality TV show.

6 season later, with over 1,000,000 gamers from all walks of life entering through the PlayStation Network, and only 12 advanced to the world-famous Silverstone race track in the UK to compete.


Grew to include separate competitions for Europe (France, Italy, UK, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Russia, Sweden, Poland and Czech Republic), Germany, North America (USA and Canada) and an International group (Australia, India, Middle East, Mexico and Thailand). 

Impact for People:

Democratizes a sport that was once reserved for only the most elite or wealthy. Now, any player can make their dream a reality with his or her own skill in the virtual world to go wheel-to-wheel in a real racecar on a real circuit to achieve the grand prize: a spot on a Nissan racing team and all the training and licensing needed to race in international events.

Impact for Business:

  • The GT Academy 2010 TV series was picked up by over 160 broadcasters worldwide and generated hundreds of digital and paper column inches of media coverage. The Gran Turismo game demo required to enter the competition - a preview of the hugely successful Gran Turismo®5 

In a single year:

  • Over 53,000 virtual drivers spent thousands of hours driving 370z in the game with over 35% of them 'opting in' for more info on Nissan 

  • Over 1.5 million GT5 units sold in the US.

  • Nissan performance saw a 31% increase in engagement

  • Over 300M impressions

  • Awarded a coveted Golden Lion for ‘Best Use of Branded Content' at the 58th International Festival of Creativity.

  • 2013 AUTOSPORT Awards, Pioneering and Innovation Award

  • 2012 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, Bronze Lion, Best Use of Branded Content

  • 2011 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, Gold Lion, Best Use of Branded Content

  • 2011 ‘Campaign’ magazine Media Awards, Best Transport Campaign

  • 2011 ‘Campaign’ magazine Media Awards, Best Media and Entertainment Campaign

  • 2011 Media Week Awards, Best International Campaign

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