Think gaming is just for endemic brands? Think again. From sports to TV—8-bit to virtual reality—these brands prove the power of engagement through video game marketing.
Gatorade: Serena Williams’ Match Point
Snapchat’s first multi-level video game ad made its debut in August, just in time for the 2016 US Open. Serena Williams’ Match Point offered 22 levels in retro, 8-bit graphics that was playable on Snapchat, ESPN Discover and its own dedicated website. The game celebrated Williams’ career and all the wins that led her to the 2016 US Open and her 22 Grand Slam singles titles, hence the number of levels.
Under Armour: It Comes From Below
Athletic brands are keen to attract the 14-to-22-year-old demographic, a target audience that spends a lot of time on Snapchat. Following the release of Under Armour’s It Comes From Below ad campaign, a tie-in game was created for Snapchat that challenged fans to navigate Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton through a forest of obstacles. Users were encouraged to beat their previous score, as well as share the game with friends. In the first day running ads for It Comes From Below, 20 percent of Snapchat users swiped up to play. Those who did spent an average of 78 seconds playing the game and 19 percent of users who played shared the game with one or more friends, per Snapchat.
Paramount Pictures: Jack Reacher: Never Stop Punching
Ahead of its October 21 release, Jack Reacher: Never Go Back received an 8-bit tribute game called Never Stop Punching. The objective of this “endless runner” is simple: just do as the title implies. Jack Reacher: Never Stop Punching may not have a plot to speak of, and technically you can just jump over enemies without hurting anyone, but this marketing shows a delightful ability to parody its own source material.
— Jack Reacher (@JackReacher) September 20, 2016
Lionsgate: John Wick Chronicles
John Wick: Chapter Two hits theaters February 10 and to mark the assassin’s return, Lionsgate and Starbreeze Studios will release an all-new, VR game series for HTC Vive. The first chapter of John Wick Chronicles, called An Eye For An Eye, casts players as Wick himself, but don’t expect a direct movie adaptation.
“The VR experience has a separate plot line, so it’s not necessarily tied to the movie. However, it’s played out in the same universe, so you will meet with characters from the movies,” Almir Listo, global brand manager at Starbreeze Studios told [a]listdaily from the New York Comic-Con show floor where it was demonstrating the first chapter of the game. “We don’t want to shy away from the message of the movie, and want to make sure John Wick Chronicles builds on it and empowers the [film].”
Netflix: A Netflix Original Game
The streaming media giant has released an endless runner game in which players can assume the role of one of four characters from popular Netflix shows: Stranger Things, Orange Is The New Black, Marco Polo or Narcos. The game, playable online, challenges users to navigate their respective character through environments related to his/her show, jumping to avoid enemies and collecting items like frozen waffles (Stranger Things) or roosters (Orange Is The New Black).
KFC: Kentucky Fried Football Challenge
Continuing its ongoing football-themed marketing strategy, Kentucky Fried Football Challenge is an interactive game on Instagram that invites users to play football from the restaurant’s profile page. A page of thumbnails creates an image of a football field, along with a “start here” tab. Users can select the play they want to run from the caption area and are directed to a football field with a marker showing how far the ball progressed down the field. Users then watch a replay of the gain or loss before choosing their next move—repeating the process toward scoring a touchdown.
Champs Sports: Secure The Bag
“Secure The Bag“—DJ Khaled’s catch phrase about staying on track with one’s goals—has become a new boot from Timberline and also a retro-style video game of the same title. In Secure The Bag, Khaled has missed the big Timberland boot launch so his only logical option is to hop on a time-traveling jet ski to make things right. (Seems legit.) Steering the DJ through a number of time periods fraught with dangers, users collect boots and fend off enemies like “Veloci-rappers” and robots on hoverboards. The game is available on its own dedicated mini-site ahead of the boot’s launch on January 25.
Jacksonville Jaguars: River City Rollers Pinball
Believed to be the first NFL team to create its own video game, the Jacksonville Jaguars started it all with an 8-bit game last year called Duval Dash. Using the same formula as aforementioned titles like Jack Reacher: Never Stop Punching and Secure The Bag, players must navigate an endless runner scenario, jumping to avoid obstacles and collecting items along the way. Next up is River City Rollers, a pinball game launched on the team’s Jaguar Arcade sponsored by Bud Light.
“Jaguars Arcade was designed as a means to engage with our brand while enjoying a challenging and fun digital experience,” said Steve Ziff, the Jaguars vice president of marketing and digital media, via ESPN. “Our goal is to reach Jags fans of all ages, and we look for this to be a key entertainment asset to grow the relationship and interact with them all year long. We will continue to create and develop more digital and mobile offerings in the future.”
Warby Parker: Worbs
This easy-going little time-waster appeared on eye wear brand, Warby Parker’s website last August. The game is part of a partnership with game developer and online publisher, Kill Screen to create a new pair of glasses called Burke. The object of Worbs is to group like-colored orbs together in order to eliminate them for points. While the concept is simple, the game quickly gained a reputation for being quite relaxing and addictive.
Detroit Pistons: One-On-One
Premiered last month, the Detroit Pistons’ game invites anyone to a virtual challenge of one-on-one. The live-action game was filmed using a number of possible scenarios based on how the user reacts to “quick time events,” in which players must hit certain keys at just the right moment to achieve a desired outcome. Users go head-to-head against Andre Drummond, Reggie Jackson, Marcus Morris, Tobias Harris and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Each of the players is also pushing the game on their social media channels with a link that starts One-On-One against that particular player.
The free game is monetized through an eight-second “spark” ad by Dodge and revenues are split evenly between the Pistons and the game’s developer, Interlude.
These forward-thinking brands utilize frontline marketing to reach their audiences in a new and entertaining way that encourages social sharing. Just as professional athletes continue to invest in the budding world of eSports, non-endemic brands are using video games to expand their reach like never before.