The NOAA and NASA “Rescue 406” game is just one example of how brands are leveraging audiences using this form of entertainment
For the past decade, marketing directors at major global brands have been finding ways to advertise their respective brand names and products in modern ways. Reaching today’s audience is much different than it was in, say, 1979. In the past, television was king, and before that, radio. With more and more so called “cord cutters” relying less on television to meet their entertainment needs, TV ads are beginning to dwindle in marketing budgets. And radio? Forget that. Unless you’re talking digital radio like Sirius XM, Pandora, or Spotify, radio listeners are decreasing too. And of the digital radio options, only some allow advertising campaigns.
One pulsing area of modern marketing and advertising strategies is within the gaming industry. Many companies have self-published branded games, placed products slyly within games, or done in-game advertising. Here’s an overview of the ways in which top global brands are moving their marketing efforts towards gaming.
Since the early days of video and computer games, various well-known brands have made attempts at publishing their own games. Pepsi created its game in 1999 called “Pepsiman.” The PlayStation release was actually quite popular in Japan, where the Pepsiman character has existed for decades. Burger King’s video game saw some success in the USA, more for its oddity than true wit. At the turn of the century, Taco Bell created “Tasty Temple Challenge” and several other computer games, given away as part of kids meals. In all of these cases, the games were heavily branded to the point of excess. These sort of games are generally viewed as a novelty more than a hit.
Even some divisions of the US government have given their “brands” a gamey sort of twist. The US Army has created an entire website called “America’s Army” where users can play simulation style games, follow comic books, and interact in other ways as part of a goal to help young men and women determine if soldiering is a good career fit. NOAA and NASA developed the “Rescue 406” game with a similar effort in mind.
Several celebrities are also giving a try at the branded gaming marketing method. Kim Kardashian, a reality TV celebrity who name is nearly synonymous with gossip, sex appeal, and family feuding, has created a widely successful game based on fashion for mobile play. Her equally famous hubby, Kanye West, is now attempting the same with his video game based on his song “Only One.”The game title will supposedly be anchored on the premise of his angelic mother entering the gates of Heaven. Now, singer celebrity Katy Perry wants her share too. The Katy Perry mobile game is set for development within the next year and being produced by the same publisher as Kardashian’s smash hit.
Product placements tend to fall more into the marketing category than pure advertising. Having a product featured as part of the game itself creates brand awareness and, hopefully, positive association. The success of these campaigns varies widely, depending on the success of the game title itself. Several notable product placements have been recently witness in video games. These include the Obama 2008 presidential campaign, Subway sandwiches, and Pizza Hut pizzas. A few more product placement marketers include Mountain Dew, Doritos, and assorted car makers.
If you’ve ever downloaded a free mobile app or game, you’ve likely witness a slew of in-game advertising. Generally every time a game is offered for free, it’s because it is either marked with extensive sponsor ads or users are given limited features while encouraged to purchase game upgrades. These primary methods of monetizing players tend to work well for both the game maker and the advertiser.
Of course, marketing and advertising via the game industry is just one of the ways global brands are trying to reach new audiences. However, it definitely seems to be a trend that will increase as the gaming industry at large continues to rise.
[Photo Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center]