Some say that video games are just a waste of time, but Ford is finding out quite the opposite. Video games that feature Ford vehicles have actually helped boost brand popularity because they give people a chance to take some of the blue oval's hottest products on a virtual joyride.

Take for example the Ford GT, Focus ST, and the F-150 Raptor featured in Forza 4, which which sold 538,000 copies during the first week of its October 11 release. Or the Shelby Super Snake and the Ford Police Interceptor in the Need for Speed that was released last month.

"We've realized that gaming is something that many people have grown up with and helps define who they are," said Brian McClary, with Ford's Social and Emerging Media team. "Ford has gained positive exposure and popularity because we put our products into the right games while giving something back to the gamer."

But the gamers are also giving back to Ford. A recent study found a correlation between Ford Focus ads in video games and brand popularity. There was a 36 percent increase in brand rating, 28 percent increase in purchase consideration, 39 percent increase in brand recommendation, and 45 percent more gamers agreed the Focus is fun to drive.

And it's not only teenagers that are playing video games, either. "Americans of all ages are playing them today," said McClary. "Ford has worked with industry leaders to deliver rich video gaming experiences, which has helped us grow the brand in an organic way with people of every age."

Ford has licensed its products to be featured in video games as far back as 1995, when Sega Rally was the bit hit among gamers, and continues to offer some of the longest running self-titled series of games included Ford Racing, Ford Street Racing, and Ford Racing Off-Road.