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Acura – Race Your Heart Out

On 30, Dec 2016 | In | By phil

Acura – Race Your Heart Out

Race Your Heart Out was the 2015 Acura Winter Sales event, which was a slot car race live broadcast on Periscope to raise money for the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation. Hearts on Periscope controlled the speed of the cars and they raced. I consulted for Razorfish on this project and created the Arduino software and interface that received the “heart rate” (how many people were tapping the hearts) for each slot car, and controlled their speed – the more hearts at any moment, the faster the cars would go.


More info: project website:

Acura asked us to activate their “Oh What Fun it is to Drive” Winter Sales Event by connecting with a hard to engage, advertising averse, yet socially connected audience. We did this by reinventing a holiday tradition. Classic slot car races provided a powerful insight and mechanism: rekindle the love and excitement of getting an iconic toy, and translate that nostalgia into the joy of considering a new car.

This led us to create the first ever Periscope race: a live slot car race event with a multi-camera broadcast, one factory race car driver and a sports network commentator, inviting users to #RaceYourHeartOut.

We customised and connected two 3D printed Acura TLX slot cars and each was given their own Periscope account. Users selected and followed on Periscope the TLX they wanted to race, they then joined the car’s broadcast and simply “hearted” the screen to make it go faster. The more the viewers on each team would “heart,” the faster their slot car would go.

How did it work exactly? Well, every heart press was monitored real-time on both Periscope accounts. Arduino then converted the heart into a unit of current and accelerated the corresponding slot car. The entire race was captured live via five cameras along the track and edited (live in real time) into a Periscope broadcast along with running commentary from Acura factory race car driver, Ryan Eversley and sports broadcaster, Greg Mescall.

Being the holiday season there was a charitable bonus feature – the purse for each race was worth a $500 donation to the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation. Two hours and twenty races later, we had generated over 60,000 hearts and raised $10,000. In total, users watched 75 hours of races and Acura brand media. Acura’s rate of hearts on Periscope increased 190%. Alicia Jones, head of social media for Acura commented: “Messaging a sales event is difficult to do effectively or natively in social media due to the heavy-handed sales message,” she says. “Simultaneously, we’re always looking to try innovative ways to engage with fans in social. With this approach, we were able to do both.”