Over the next two weeks, the national teams of many major countries will be meeting in a series of international friendlies, to help them warm-up for upcoming tournaments. For the European contingent, that means this summer's UEFA Euro in France—and the closer we get to the real deal, the more significance is heaped upon these exhibition matches by fans.
The pressure is always on the host country, but France being France, the pressure is doubled. But in addition to friendlies against the Netherlands and Russia over the next two weeks, the French team has had yet another challenge put to it: to play against each other in an epic game of foosball, while thousands of fans manipulate and influence the game in real-time.
Volkswagen, with agency DDB Paris and production company UNIT9, has built the first-ever digital and connected foosball table and, at a live event on March 22nd at the French National training ground in Clairefontaine, six famed French footballers will compete against each other in three foosball matches live-streamed for fans to tune in and interact with.
It looks like a stylish retro foosball table, but the tabletop is made of a 55" 4K flatscreen TV with surround sound speakers, and GoPro cameras integrated throughout to film the players live and offer viewers access to different angles, views, and replays. The table is connected to the Internet so fans can also influence the game as it happens. On March 22, French football fans can visit FraFra.fr and use the Twitter hashtag #FraFra to switch up the game while the players play—from changing the number of balls on the table and moving the goalposts, to removing players, reversing controls, or changing the rules mid-game.
DDB Paris copywriter Alexis Benoit and art director Alexandre Lagoet say the brief from VW was quite simple, to create some noise before the Euro Cup, since the brand is not an official sponsor of the competition.
"The endline for the VW x FFF partnership 'La passion est un sport collectif' has always been about bringing people together," say Benoit and Lagoet, in an email. "So after searching for the best way to connect everyone together, we came up with this digital foosball idea. A sweet opportunity to design an original piece controlled both IRL and through a simple website and Twitter. Above all, a fun campaign that puts all the fans in the driving seat."
UPDATE 3/22: The event has been postponed due to the tragic events in Brussels.