All sorts of consumer brands, from exclusive high-end fashion houses to fast food chains and even movie studios, are realising the opportunities to connect with their customers through games.
The platforms are a way of accessing customers having a bit of fun and being entertained, while at the same time providing brands with a way to create targeted and immersive brand experiences that don’t have the obvious signs of advertising and potentially yield valuable customer data.
Brandometry co-founder and president, Tony Wenzel, positioned the move into gaming as an extension of advertising and sponsorship in film and television. And involvement in games isn’t new – it goes as far back as social media gaming platforms such as Second Life.
“Gamers sign up for online gaming services, relinquishing precious demographic information, making the trend away from retail game purchases to online distribution which makes gaming environments even more fertile ground for advertisers,” he told CMO. “As graphics tools improved and the cost of hardware fell, video games began to incorporate more life-like scenes, creating a natural environment for brands.”
Rising popularity of gaming is something which is appealing to advertising and marketing hoping to align their brands with this loyalty, according to Wenzel. He cited gaming platform, Twitch, the fourth largest source of peak time Internet traffic in the US, behind Web giants Apple, Google and Netflix, as proof of the popularity, and opportunity, in the games arena for marketing.
“The democratisation of play is big business, vying for considerable capital in the attention economy,” he said.
“Gamers are committed, consistent and loyal like Nascar fans. It’s not uncommon for game players to modify games, which indicates deep affinity, something brands and advertisers cherish.”
With this in mind, CMO took a look at the state of gamification and found at least major brands adding this marketing tool into their arsenal as another way to build customer loyalty and rapport.
Louis Vuitton goes retro
Luxury fashion house, Louis Vuitton, created the Endless Runner game, a retro-looking video game where players run through a virtual New York streetscape jumping over obstacles in a bid to collect icons.
It’s a simple game rendered in a 16-bit pixelated style resembling early video games of the 1980s.
Player run in the retro-style Endless Runner game by jumping over sidewalk obstacles and collecting Louis Vuitton tokens. The game’s debut coincided with the Collection’s launch in stores and online, and sees players revisiting the New York City set of Virgil Abloh’s Men’s Fall-Winter 2019 Fashion Show that took place in Paris earlier in that year.
Guerlain opts for gamification marketing
French high-end cosmetics house, Guerlain, has tried its hand at gaming several times.
The brand first collaborated with duty-free shopping outlet, Sunrise Duty-Free, to create a Tetris-style game for the Chinese social platform, WeChat, to promote its KissKiss lipstick collection.
It also created the My Rouge-G game for another lipstick launch in China, and this time the game encourages players to compete with each other and then collect rewards in stores.
Within 10 days of its launch, the campaign had reportedly attracted 18,582 page views and 10,000 players. In total, Guerlain said it selected more than 300 winners.
Dior turns shoppers into gamers
Another exclusive brand seeing the potential to connection with customers through a little competitive gaming is Dior.
To create some excitement ahead of a new store opening in the Chinese city of Shanghai, the designer clothing house created a game where players needed to collect six in-game Dior tokens in an interactive treasure hunt to launch and virtual hot air balloon and win tickets to the store opening. The game campaign was supported by both online and offline advertising.
Dior was reportedly the first luxury brand to sell directly through the WeChat social media platform.
Hermes games its history
Another French luxury goods house, Hermes, released a horse-inspired WeChat game, H-pitchhh, where players had to toss a horseshoe in order to win prizes.
The more points earned, the more players unlock exclusive content such as virtual worlds inspired by Hermès illustrations, as well as different horseshoe pitching objects. Users could play alone or invite a friend to participate in the experience.
Much like the traditional horseshoe tossing game, the campaign was described as a nod to the brand’s origins as a horse harness maker.
The game was launched in 2018, the year Hermes launched a ‘let’s play’ theme across its marketing efforts, and also reflected what several have called the brand’s more whimsical content and creative strategy.
Burberry wraps jackets
Iconic English fashion house, Burberry, has also had a couple of turns using gaming to grab the interest of prospective shoppers.
Its first outing, B Bounce, which could be played online and also in its flagship London store, had players wear Burberry monogram jackets to compete against a deer-shaped character to get to the moon and to collect logos. Prizes included jackets from its new collection the game was designed to promote.
The second foray is the recently released Ratberry game to coincide with the Lunar New Year and 2020 as the Year of the Rat. Players bounce the Ratberry character, aiming to get as high as possible, collecting gold coins and catching Chinese lanterns along the way. Burberry has also released Lunar New Year stickers on WeChat, featuring Ratberry and products from the dedicated Luna New Year capsule collection, to aid its push into the Chinese market.
Gucci builds a virtual games arcade
Italian fashion house, Gucci, has introduced games into its app in Gucci Arcade.
There are several different games available including Gucci Lips, a virtual pinball game, Grip, a skateboarding game, and Ace, where players face off against virtual opponents in a tennis match. Like the Louis Vuitton games, Gucci Arcade is created like old-school simple 8-bit arcade games which hark back to the early video games in the 1980s.
Unlike some of the other brands here, Gucci has opted to build the games within its existing app, available for iPhones and Android phones, rather than run on its website or target specific markets such as Asian shoppers through the WeChat app.
Chanel pops up games centre
Iconic fragrance, clothing and make-up brand, Chanel, has been another to embrace gaming with a real-world twist.
It’s created pop-up gaming centres in a range of Asian cities, the list includes Hong Kong, Seoul, Tokyo, Shanghai, Singapore and Bangkok, branded as the Coco Game Center.
The games on offer include racing, bubble and crane games in old-style stand-up gaming units along with space for makeup try ons and other product experience booths.
Not just luxury brands getting in on gaming
Brands engaging with games isn’t new, although brands have yet to fully embrace the concept of gamification with their own standalone game. Several years ago, getting in on the trend early, jewellery and watch brand, Cartier, created a campaign on WeChat for 520 Day, China’s version of Valentine’s Day.
It’s not just global, high-end fashion and retail brands hoping to entice customers using games either. There are a host of other brands, from fast food chains to clothing and even streaming platforms, which have looked to gamification for specific marketing campaigns or new product launches to entertain and engage consumers with a little competitive fun while spruiking their wares in a virtual environment.
Honourable mentions of a few more brands adding games to their arsenal of marketing tools include sportswear brand, Under Armour, and its Snapchat game, which was part of the It Comes From Below campaign and Serena Williams’ Match Point game, marking her 22 Grand Slam singles titles in 2016 for Gatorade.
On the entertainment front, Paramount Pictures released the Never Stop Punching game to promote its Jack Reacher: Never Go Back film, while streaming giant Netflix released an online game with characters from some of its popular series such as Stranger Things, Orange Is The New Black, Marco Polo and Narcos. Food giant KFC has put out an Instagram game, Kentucky Fried Football Challenge, and US eyewear brand Warby Parker created the Worbs game to connect with customers.
And closer to home, subscription beauty box provider, Bellabox, collaborated with Lumi Interactive, to allow Android players of the free mobile game, Critter Clash, to participate in a special in-game event collecting lifestyle and beauty items unlocking a limited edition flamingo character. This gave them the opportunity to win in-game items as well as purchase beauty and lifestyle boxes directly within the mobile game itself.
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