Mad Libs' universal appeal has provided both adults and children with endless amusement due to their "fill in the blanks" results. Yet this diverse popularity was a key challenge for digital agency Kettle when publisher Penguin Young Readers approached the agency to upgrade its Mad Libs mobile app.
Unlike most apps with specific demographics, Penguin needed a new version that appealed to both children and adults, that was modern while remaining true to the classic game, and the agency had to get the new version to market fast.
This month, Kettle is debuting this all-age Mad Libs mobile app via iTunes. And executives say this new app has been studiously designed to resonate across all age groups. "Our concept uses technology to bring a classic game to life in a whole new way — making Mad Libs a truly digital, casual game," says Lauren Diamond Kushner, Partner and Executive Producer at Kettle. "The new app sits at the intersection of fun, fast and shareable."
Kettle created a new and vibrant color palette that brings each book and each interaction to life, on every screen. Custom illustrations for each book further enhance the brand and stories. Then, the agency added original Mad Libs mascot Phil N. Deblank, to offer hints and encouragement along the way. "He’s always been a part of Mad Libs but now with technology he’s been brought to life. He's your coach and your friend," says Diamond Kushner. "He takes you through your Mad Libs journey as you explore the app and all the various themes and books. Phil makes creating stories more fun, by providing you hints and new words to play and he rewards you when you complete and share stories. With the new Mad Libs app you can create a funny story now matter where, when, or who is around."
It is also the first time the brand has explored sound design to pair with the product. "The zany soundtrack plays throughout the game and changes based on your where
you are in game play," says Diamond Kushner.
Kettle focused on making game mechanics easier and more fun. For instance, there are new gestures like swiping a tile up towards Phil to submit a word. "We introduced new rewards where users can earn badges that tie in with Game Center and stickers each time they complete a story," says Diamond Kushner.
While players are able to track their progress, Penguin is also able to measure results. The app's primary main metric for success is an increase in number of completed stories. Other success measures include number of downloads, in-app purchases, stories shared, number of new users and positive feedback from players on the new experience.
The app is tethered to social media to encourage users to share their stories across various social networks to get friends in on the joke.
Kettle's product team is working with internal and external teams to promote the app with social media content across Mad Libs properties. The agency is also working on a series of licensed partner applications: Hello Kitty, Family Guy and WWE Mad Libs iOS products will launch over the next few months. Meanwhile, in-app features will drive users to try the new partner products.