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GT Academy 2010 wins Golden Lion at prestigious Cannes Festival of Creativity

Cannes, Wednesday 22 June 2011 – Nissan Europe and Sony Computer Entertainment Europe’s GT Academy 2010 programme has been honoured at the prestigious annual gathering of the advertising and marketing industries at Cannes. The second series of the virtual-to-real racer competition was awarded a coveted Golden Lion for ‘Best Use of Branded Content’ at the 58th International Festival of Creativity.

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 - was downloaded over 1.3 million times in the participating territories.

The competition ran in 17 countries throughout Europe, as well as Australia and New Zealand. The 20 fastest gamers from each territory gathered for national finals events with 18 graduating to the Academy itself at Silverstone for a series of driving, physical and mental challenges. Frenchman Jordan Tresson beat the field and was trained to international racing standard before participating in the European GT4 Cup in a Nissan 370Z.

A series of five 24-minute TV episodes charted the action as the PlayStation gamers vied to become a real racing driver. A social media, advertising and PR campaign supported the programme.

The inaugural GT Academy in 2008 was won by 23-year-old Spanish student Lucas Ordoñez. Lucas raced in the LMP2 class at this year’s Le Mans 24 Hours and took second place with his Signatech Nissan Team. His journey from PlayStation®3 gamer to the Le Mans podium in less than three years is a clear demonstration of the strength of the Academy.

Having received the award, Nissan International’s European chief marketing manager for sports cars, Darren Cox, commented: “It’s great to receive this prestigious award only 10 days after our historical podium at the Le Mans 24 Hours with our first GT Academy winner and only a few days after our new 2011 winner was announced at Silverstone. It is testament to the ongoing success of the programme, a success that has taken five years of effort by a small, committed group of individuals. The Academy is a true example of Nissan’s ‘Innovation and Excitement for Everyone’ while we are also very proud that it is a joint initiative with an excellent partner in PlayStation.”

Sony Computer Entertainment’s Mark Bowles, who developed the concept with Darren Cox, added: "This is recognition for what has been an exciting, but challenging five years developing this project and delivering great content across multiple channels. PlayStation is all about delivering rich, innovative experiences and our close partnership with Nissan on GT Academy has enabled us to change the lives of two gamers, who can both now call themselves professional race drivers. GT Academy continues to grow due to the passion of all those involved and I am very excited about watching the progress of our latest winner as his journey begins."

Jann Mardenborough, a 19-year-old from Wales, has just been announced as the GT Academy 2011 winner. He will now embark on an intensive training programme before entering the prestigious Dubai 24 Hour race in January, 2012 in a full, race-spec Nissan 370Z. Series three of the programme will air across Europe this Autumn.