In marketing circles, when a company or brand promotes itself with a range of media channels i.e. press, radio, public relations, billboards etc, it is called multi channel marketing.
Sometimes brands delve into the world of movies and video games, creating branded content and yet another way to reach out to the consumer in an engaging manner.
This has been most successful for bands, especially with the creation of the niche Rhythm market. If you compare the number of songs from Guitar Hero II that were performed by the original band (and not just ‘made famous by’) to those of Guitar Hero 5, you will see what I mean.
By including the master recording, it means the song isn’t covered by a local musician and that the band and its management approve of its use. It also shows that the $40 billion games industry is a viable channel for releasing and showcasing music.
Further success for bands to prosper in games can be seen in PGR4, Burnout 3: Takedown and the Tony Hawk series. These games have a wide selection of music including punk, rock and electronic that can be selected to create a playlist to suit your taste and tailor your gaming experience.
This enables bands to become a bigger part of the game, with new songs being introduced via the gaming channel. Personally, I have either become a fan or a bigger fan of some bands because of this introduction.
In some cases I have also noticed a difference in my driving technique when select songs play in my play list. Some songs I enjoy a little too much which negatively affects my lap times while other songs improve my time because they motivate me and put me in the mood to win.
Furthermore, DLC for Burnout Revenge included cars from Alienware, Dolby, Monster, Xbox Live and even the band Yellow Card. This in game content is yet another way to reach out to a consumer and expand your brand to a captivated audience.
The beauty of this is that the advertising for each of the brands (Alienware, Dolby etc) fits in with the game and doesn’t feel intrusive. It enhances your experience and can make you feel more inclined to deal with these brands outside of the game.
This can also be said with the inclusion of actual car brands in games. Driving a Porsche, Audi or a Zonda through a course and noticing the difference between the cars, both in performance and handling, can create new fans for each manufacturer.
Upgrading your car with Spoon parts or Brembo brakes also influences real life purchases, especially once you see the results in a decent simulator.
What I find questionable is blatant advertising such as the Barrack Obama, Burger King or Gillette ads placed in Burnout Paradise. Although I can’t tell you if the campaigns were successful (or how successful they were), I can tell you this kind of advertising is a risky move that can be detrimental to one’s brand.
While Burnout Paradise was a fairly well received game, I don’t think it was real enough to introduce real world advertising. Games such as GT5 or Forza 3 should include advertising (either static if stand alone or dynamic if online) as this enhances the game play and creates the realism of racing on a professional track.
Subtlety is key in these situations, unlike the advergames of the 90’s (McDonald’s, Kool-Aid and 7-Up adventures), the recent Transformers movies (gee, I wonder who sponsored those...) or the Fall Out Boy video clip for Thnks fr th Mmrs (either I don't get the premise or you're trying to make an extra dollar or two boys).
What do you think about in game advertising or branded content? Does it enrich your experience or does it frustrate you enough to put the controller down?