In the increasingly fragmented media world, the already hard-to-reach, big-consumption, volume 18-34 target is harder to influence than ever before. While traditional mass media are still "center of the plate," clearly "side dishes" like events or experiential marketing, out-of-home, place-based and computer media are critical in brand- and sales-building efforts against this target.
In the post-Internet flameout, package goods marketers are looking for new ways to reach today's generation of consumers who use computers every day.
These consumers grew up mouse-in-hand and live in a different world, with a different mind-set from those born pre-computers. Via cell phones, pagers, portable game devices, computers and game consoles, these consumers are digitally linked to millions of other young people -- often in real-time.
The decentralized and unregulated flow of these interactive digital media means they have, or will soon have, almost total control over what they see, hear and respond to. Anyone wishing to communicate with this audience had better do it in a way that fits the paradigm. Young consumers have to want to interact with your message.
Videogames are a cultural, social and entertainment phenomenon. An entire generation has been raised on them. Videogame sensibilities inform everything from commercials to music to fashion to movies. Videogame characters are in commercials, the movies, on MTV and in consumers' living rooms. Everywhere you turn, some aspect of videogaming is being used to denote relevance for one product or another.
Loosely defined, advergaming is the incorporation of brand messaging and/or images into the action of a videogame.
Like most media, advergaming has opportunities at different levels. Console games (PlayStation, Xbox), like movies, offer opportunities for product placement and billboard sponsorships. Custom, branded games, which feature the brand as the star of the game, are created as part of a marketing or promotional campaign and distributed through the CPG marketers' traditional promotional channels.
In 1996, a University of Florida study tested a branded videogame featuring Pizza Hut products and found that:
Advergames are a "strong brand-retention medium."
Games evoke vivid images that improve memory of the material.
Fun videogames evoke positive brand feelings.
How can package goods marketers take advantage of the family or student computer to increase business? The opportunity is to motivate trial, generate loyalty and continuity, and build store traffic and sales volume.
Just using the videogame platform itself sends a relevancy message to your young consumer. Plus, purchase motivation is high given that you can offer a $30 valued videogame in-packed with anything from a $2.49 snack chip purchase to a $3.99 12-pack soda offer. And, as alluded to earlier, with a branded videogame you can extend your brand world into the high-end multimedia world of videogames where emotional selling and high recall are the media benchmarks.
The beauty of custom-branded games is that they can be further customized for account-specific marketing programs that involve and benefit trade partners. By customizing a package goods custom game to include the retailer, both parties can work together to leverage display and distribution to generate traffic and sales.
Executionally, custom videogames are uniquely compatible with the needs and demands of package goods manufactures.
They are physically small and light, so they don't add weight or girth when on-packed or in-packed. For the frozen and refrigerated sections, where it has traditionally been difficult to in-pack premiums, videogames' resilience to temperature means they can tolerate long periods of extreme cold.
Marketers can effectively merchandise videogames off-shelf with a minimum footprint, while still generating consumer excitement and impulse purchase.
Second, all accounts want to add value to the customer shopping experience, to give them more than what they bargained for. Custom games are without equal in addressing these issues from a store presence and a perceived value point of view.
From custom games to billboard sponsorships in console games, you can activate sponsorships, build awareness for your brand and brand mascots, leverage your event schedule and more.
Scott Randall is president of DVC Brand Games, New York, the digital marketing and interactive gaming division of DVC Worldwide, a Morristown, N.J., marketing firm.