Advertising in Games That You Won't Want to Skip

2020.02.27

Simon Mourgues

When companies try to target gamers with a product, they often end up doing so through sponsorships or by selling a product that would appeal to gamers. Most gamers are familiar with the energy drink G Fuel (short for Gamer Fuel) whether they consume it or not as it is sponsored by big gaming icons such as Dr.Disrespect or the eSports team, FaZe Clan. Other companies sprinkle sponsored content into games their audience is playing, or take Final Fantasy XV’s approach of not so stealthily serving up some of Nissin’s Cup Noodles for players to enjoy. While having a whole quest to make the perfect Cup Noodles is indeed hilarious, this article will instead focus on the companies which take an extra step past product placement.

Wendy’s Wins at Fortnite (in their own way)

Someone who is unfamiliar with Wendy’s Twitter account should take a look, especially if reading the company roasting its competition sounds fun. Wendy’s has had a good social media team and has targeted gamers before, such as when they hosted speedrunning competitions for Super Mario Maker 2. However Wendy’s first Twitch stream won a Gold Clio, as they took advantage of Fortnite’s online storyline to produce an impressive campaign. When Fortnite players were prompted to hunt and herd cattle to freezers, Wendy’s team teamed up with their marketing agency, VMLY&R, to fight against the rise of frozen beef. Wendy’s streamed themselves playing Fortnite on Twitch with an avatar designed to look like Wendy. However, instead of killing players, they destroyed the freezers holding the frozen beef because “Wendy’s doesn’t do frozen beef”. Gamers took notice and there was 119% increase in mentions on all platforms for Wendy’s. While this was quite impressive, if you’re more analog I’d recommend checking out Wenydy’s D&D campaign. No joke, roll for initiative in the Feast of Legends.

Old Spice Brings Freshness Into Interactivity

As a company that targets men, Old Spice loved the idea of tapping into the market made up of Twitch users, as 81.5% of them were male. Taking heavy inspiration from Twitch Plays Pokemon, Old Spice’s Nature Adventure allowed viewers to give commands to an actor for 3 days via Twitch chat as he explored nature. As he explored nature, events would happen around him such as when a prospector appeared trying to mine for Instagram likes. Twitch chat would often give him a number of commands associated with the event, although often not helpful to the situation, such as stealing the prospector’s beard, wrestling the bear (which was a man in a costume), or to scream loudly at nothing. It was a fun event that brought in a lot of viewers which all had a chance to experience nature, albeit through somebody else.

No don't eat that pizza, the food games are just below!

The Fun Food Games

Before streaming was around a number of food companies decided that a good way to advertise to early gamers was to create games themselves. There were a lot of bad ones, but three of them stood out to me and other gamers. 

Check Out Chex 

When Chex Quest (1996) came out in cereal boxes, many were surprised by how good of a game it was. With very similar gameplay to Doom, Chex Quest follows the Chex Warrior, who has to eradicate Flemoids which are infesting his planet. It was built on a budget of half a million dollars, but the campaign did great and won the Golden EFFIE Award for Advertising Effectiveness in 1996 and the Golden Reggie Award for Promotional Achievement in 1998. The game  received multiple sequels, and was also rereleased just last year for the older fans of the cereal game genre.

Play with Pepsi

Pepsiman (1999) was a strange game that was only released in Japan. The PS1 game had the player play as Pepsiman, a sort of superhero mascot, with the goal of  delivering Pepsi to a dehydrated person. Very similar to temple run, Pepsiman had to dodge obstacles as he ran forward with the goal of reaching the end. The game has also been compared to Crash Bandicoot by reviewers and is still played in speedrunning competitions. And if you’re not sold on that alone, I heavily insist you at least listen to this amazing theme first.

This gives some mad Sonic Escape From The City, doesn't it?

Bonus Burger Games

Yes, another burger related campaign has come up. When Burger King made 3 games for the Xbox and Xbox 360 in 2006, people were surprised that they only cost 3 dollars each. One game, Sneak King had players deliver meals to characters while highlighting the menu options in great detail, while PocketBike Racer with Mario Kart-esque vibes. All that with a side of fries at Burger King? Now that’s a value deal!

If my UberEats was delivered by this guy though, I may not open the door.

Well all this talk of sponsored games sure got me hungry. Time to enjoy a nice Nissin Cup Noodle (not sponsored).

Cheers,
Simon Mourgues

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