Avoiding Franchise Fatigue

Having valuable IP can give a publisher a big leg up, but companies need to be very careful with their properties so that they don’t become stale after multiple iterations. Ubisoft’s popular Splinter Cell franchise has seen a slight decline in sales in recent years, but with the fifth iteration, Splinter Cell Conviction, about to launch on April 13, the publisher is looking to redefine the franchise and the stealth genre.

Marketing can help send out the right message to gamers, but if the gameplay feels tired, even the best campaign will do little to help. IndustryGamers recently interviewed Ubisoft’s Max Beland about keeping the Splinter Cell franchise fresh and attracting new players.

Old-School Marketing Still Works

In this digital era we live in, it’s easy to forget about old marketing methods, but Adweek has an interesting article about low-budget marketing methods that can still work today sometimes better than more modern approaches.

A restaurant named Cluck-U sent out some folks in chicken suits to promote their establishment and branding, and it’s worked wonders. “Twenty-five percent of what we bring in,” says Cluck-U CEO J.P. Haddad, “is because of those chickens.”

Stop and think about that for a second. This is the age of Web 2.0, of iPods and iPhones, Twitter and Facebook. Brands have learned to harness just about every high-tech advancement in our lives and press it to the service of marketing and advertising. So what’s it say when a dude in a chicken suit still works just great writes Adweek. It says that smart brands are still conscious of the power of low-tech marketing in the overall mix. At a time of shrunken budgets and media clutter, many brands have discovered that sometimes the old-school ideas still work very well — even better, in some cases, because the public hasn’t seen them used in a while. All of which has given way to a renaissance of ideas like sandwich boards, balloon messaging, in-store taste tests and other grassroots gambits that the Web age was supposed to have rendered irrelevant. Instead, such decidedly analog methods are being trotted out and made over as companies big and small realize they can get more bang for their limited advertising bucks with the tried-and-true marketing methods of bygone eras.

IPad’s Advertising Potential

The iPad is seen as a great potential boon for the gaming and electronics industries. When the Wall Street Journal went asking companies how they would approach the device, Time Magazine indicated that they would receive sponsorships from Unilever, Toyota Motor and Fidelity Investments among others to sponsor their initial issues for the iPad. Additionally, Ford is apparently building an arcade game that’s controlled by tilting the iPad.

It’ll be interesting to see who creates these ads, writes IDG’s ITworld. Will it be the traditional print creators learning interactivity, or will it be the designers doing small-format flash ads for current sites learning to think big And what will it cost for advertisers to create all this content For companies like Coke and FedEx, this is a non-issue, but if the iPad does become ubiquitous and smaller publications, those that attract smaller advertisers with smaller budgets, move to the device it could be a factor. You’d be surprised at how often an advertiser needs help creating a basic banner ad once you get away from big media.

Emptor Sues GameStop, Citing Lacking Caveat

A disgruntled shopper is suing GameStop, claiming the retailer fails to warn its customers that downloadable content advertised as free on game packaging isn’t available to used game buyers. According to IGN’s report, the plaintiff James Collins filed the suit after purchasing a used copy of EA’s Dragon Age: Origins at a California GameStop, getting a $5 discount over a new copy but then discovering that content advertised as free on the box would cost him an additional $15. Collins claims that GameStop failed to address that the code to access the content had expired once the original owner downloaded it. His attempt to return the game was refused when he missed the store’s seven-day refund policy. The suit states that the retailer tricks consumers into paying more for a used game than they would if they purchased the same game and content new. IGN says GameStop refused to comment, citing that it doesn’t do so on pending litigation. Read more at IGN.

The Internet Of Branded Things

Writing for Ad Age, Garrick Schmitt looks at novel ways companies are harnessing the internet of things concept, bypassing the marketer-consumer connection and instead trying to create a direct link between people and branded things. Read more at Ad Age.

Yearning For M-rating, Australia Gamers Welcome New MP

The game industry is getting a welcome feeling in Australia after the country saw its anti-mature game attorney-general give up his post to a much more favorable candidate. Australia news site news.com.au reports (via Edge-Online) that John Rau, the new MP taking over as South Australian Attorney-General, has already made statements that he s amenable to introducing a mature game rating in the country. Rau replaced Michael Atkinson, a staunch opponent of mature game content who had denied classification for titles such as EA’s “Left 4 Dead 2” and Sega’s “Alien vs. Predator,” and in recent months faced challenges from game makers and retailers. Atkinson stepped down from his post despite winning his most recent election, citing personal reasons. The report from news.com.au says Chris Prior, game industry advocate and president of pro-mature rating lobbying group Gamers4Croydon, spoke to Rau about the issue shortly after he replaced Atkinson. Prior said that Rau called the lack of a mature rating for games absurd and said he thinks extending Australia’s R18+ film rating to mature games is common sense. Australia’s attorneys-general are preparing to take up the issue at their next meeting in late April. Read more at news.com.au.

Ogling This Week’s Ad Age Viral Video chart

Ad Age lists the top 10 viral videos for the week of March 15 based on viewer tracking by online video firm Visible Measures.


Of this week s four new entries, three broke into the top five. Ad Age says Doritos seems to have a working formula for viral videos, placing its second number one on the chart in two months with a video promoting a contest in Canada that drew more than 2.3 million views. The winning formula here could be the scary puppet. A little further down at number three, Sony s long-form ad for PlayStation Move that took a few stealthy swipes at Microsoft’s Xbox 360 motion controller debuted on the chart with nearly 1 million views. It’s worth noting Microsoft’s Natal video is still on the chart at number nine with about 460,000 views, its 39th week on Ad Age’s top ten. The remaining new entries are two hilarious college humor themed virals. Muscle Milk’s take on spring break was the fourth most viewed on the chart with about 866,000 views, and Capital One’s long video spoofing a March Madness Cinderella story entered at number six with 530,000 views.  Check out the full list and watch the videos at Ad Age.