Big Brands Currently Building Interest and Educating with Advergames
“Today, spending $50,000 on a game doesn’t raise eyebrows,” comments Garry Kitchen, president and CEO of Skyworks Technologies, the digital entertainment company behind the currently-running Toyota 4Runner Challenge game.
The custom built, 4-level game takes players through tough terrains in a 2003 Toyota 4Runner, showing off specific vehicle features such as the Torsen Limited Slip-Center Differential. The game entices players to enter contact information with a chance to win outdoor gear.
Some auto advertisers have ventured beyond the beaten racing path, including Chevy. The company began promoting its new Cavalier on the Uproar site through the Name That Tune Challenge this month. In the hopes of engaging players with the brand, the game features songs that mention Chevy, such as Don McLean’s American Pie.
Perhaps the most sold on advergaming, however, is the consumer packaged goods industry. M&M’s has just launched a promotional holiday game created by Blockdot. This is the second game the firm has built for the candy brand, the first of which was the “Flip the Mix” game promoting M&M’s new color contest. According to Blockdot, over a 4-5 month period, the game was played for up to 2.5 hours on average about 6 million times.
“What does that type of exposure cost if you tried to get that through traditional means?” marvels Jack Dearnbarger, manager, new business development at the interactive marketing company. “The flipside is if you’re buying that amount of time on TV, you can’t guarantee that people are watching.”
In addition to creating consumer-aimed games, Blockdot creates HR training games for companies like American Airlines to educate employees about 401K plans and other benefits.
These days, since many advertisers require a tangible return on investment, combining branding and awareness objectives with more measurable missions like data capture is becoming the norm. When it comes to branding via advergames, whether users are playing the brand, as opposed to simply playing the game is not easily determined, which means assessing value from a branding standpoint can be difficult.
The newly-launched Nextel/National Hockey League All-Star Challenge, developed in conjunction with a 2003 NHL All-Star Weekend sweepstakes, begs that very question. The 3D advergame was created by MindComet to collect user contact information and data on cell phone usage. The player stands at one end of an ice rink plastered with Nextel logos, facing a larger-than-life Nextel phone. His goal: slap the puck into the buttons of the iC90 phone that correspond to each of the characters in “NEXTEL9”. In the first five weeks after launch, registrations “more than doubled” what was expected by Nextel, according to MindComet’s president and CEO, Ted Murphy.
Regardless of the initial impact on brand awareness, that registration information can enable the ongoing branding process. Lynne Viera, creative director at marketing agency, BaseSix, has been involved with advergame campaigns for HBO shows including Sex and the City. She opines that advergames provide an inlet for advertisers to reach consumers in the future: “Now we can talk to them based on the fact that they’ve spent time playing the game….It definitely is a strong beginning to the process.”