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Game First, Brand Later: A Strategic Approach to Advergames

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Advergames = Advertising + Games

If it’s an advergame it makes sense that the brand is front and center – in both the graphic element as well as the gameplay..

Most advergames are tactical – usually to spread brand awareness, frequently tied in with a brand launch or event.

I would like to posit a case for a different kind of advergame – the Strategic Advergame, where the brand finds no mention at all, at least initially! Game First. Brand Later.

Crazy and illogical. Maybe Not.

First let me establish the fundamentally different objectives of a Tactical vs. Strategic Advergame

Tactical Vs Strategic Advergames

You may be a Coke or Pepsi or a McD’s  and your brand stands for many things but chances are is not synonymous with gaming. An EA or a Zynga has a higher credibility in the game space.

So then why would we want brands to get in the business of “hardcore” gaming? Because as my previous post mentioned, games are great at community building.

Make a fun game – allow critical mass to build and then the Brand does a Reveal, typically through a brand or sales promotion.

Will some players get pissed off and not return? Sure! But the larger task of community creation and a resonance with brand values would have been achieved.

Brands have recognized the power of popular games – T-Mobile’s recent partnership with Zynga for a special mission in Zynga’s Treasure Isle social game.

Look at what P&G has done in the television movie medium with Secrets of the Mountain. P&G took upon itself the task of providing families with quality entertainment and commissioned the movie.

No mention of P&G on the movie posters. No cheesy in-movie product placements.

Why not a full-fledged game in the same vein?

What do you think? Do CMOs and Brand Managers have the guts to tell their CFOs that they will spend serious money on a game which will have no mention of their brand upfront?

What has been your brand’s experience with gaming and digital media? Comments are open!

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