13 Feb 2018
My daily commute from Bristol to Bath and back again can be something of a grind. It’s an hour each way, and that’s when the trains don’t turn up late or with half their carriages missing. Or not at all.
So I am forever indebted to the God of Podcasts (the Godcast?) for blessing us with an ever-swelling world of them, just when I needed it most.
I’m a creature of habit. So I like to get stuck into something that educates me on my outward journey, and something to switch off from work (football, music, comedy) on my way home.
Subsequently, I’ve amassed a wealth of insightful and constantly refreshed marketing content to pick from in the mornings.
This collection grew by one this week with the launch of a new podcast by BBH Labs. Each episode, they say, asks a “different burning question about the future of marketing”.
Sounds intriguing, I thought as I hit ‘subscribe’…
ENTERTAIN OR DIE?
That’s the title of the maiden episode.
The number of people who simply extricate themselves from the places brands advertise is growing. These individuals don’t watch linear TV, they use ad blockers online and they certainly don’t read newspapers or magazines.
“[There’s] a whole new generation of people who just do not ever see advertising, unless it’s out-of-home, basically. They’re cord-cutters, they’re just using subscription services like Hulu and Netflix and Amazon Prime. So they’re ready to pay to avoid advertising altogether.”
Agathe Guerrier, Head of Strategy, BBH Labs
It’s clear that they still consume entertainment. Quite a lot of it, actually.
So our friends at BBH Labs pondered the notion that moving into these spaces is the definitive answer to infiltrating our ever-more-elusive attention.
WHO’S DOING IT, AND DOING IT WELL?
The obvious one is Amazon. Remember when all they did was sell books online? Now they’re making some of the most captivating telly around.
And nobody utters the words ‘branded content’ these days without mentioning The LEGO Movie in the same sentence.
The other example mentioned at length in the podcast was the involvement of General Motors in the Transformers franchise.
“The global series gets our cutting-edge designs in front of more potential customers than we could through traditional methods,” said Ed Welburn, VP of GM Global Design.
That’s all well and good, I thought, headphones on as I negotiated the icy Bristol pavements. But these are huge brands with immense budgets.
What about the plethora of others who don’t have a few million to spare?
ENTERTAINMENT IS MORE THAN JUST TV
There is another way to break through the noise and capitalise on this ad-shy audience’s thirst for entertainment, And it doesn’t require eye-watering budgets or a Hollywood director.
As a starter for ten, what do you think was the top selling product in the UK across all entertainment categories in 2016? We’re talking both physical and digital sales, by the way.
The answer: FIFA 17, with 2.5m copies sold.
Whether this surprises you or not depends on how closely you keep tabs on the phenomenally buoyant world of gaming. There are an estimated 2.2 billion gamers worldwide. In 2017, they spent roughly $108.9bn on their collective passion.
There are two ways brands can tap into this colossal, vibrant world. Partnering with existing franchises can, as with Coca-Cola + FIFA or Nissan + Gran Turismo, be powerful avenues into gaming audiences.
But beware. Gamers can sniff out a poor fit a mile off, and they won’t react well.
Also, we’re not talking paltry sums of money here either. So, onto option two…
JUST CREATE YOUR OWN
Game-based tactical campaigns can be a hugely beneficial and cost-effective way of persuading audiences to interact with brands.
As mentioned, around a third of the world’s population are gamers. Why? As humans, we love to test our skills. The thrill of mastering a challenge, and the sense of achievement when we complete it, entertains us.
Here’s a little example. The other day, I was handed a voucher at the station for 20% off my first Ocado shop. I barely gave it a cursory glance before I binned it. (In the Mixed Recyclables bin, may I add. I’m not an animal).
Meanwhile, rewind to a Candy Crush-style game we created last year to promote Kiddylicious’ baby snacks.
A few winners of money-off vouchers didn’t receive them straight away, as the emails went into their Junk folders.
My goodness, they were so quick to vent their anger on the brand’s Facebook page!
See where I’m going with this? If something is a hand-out, often it doesn’t feel of any great value. But if we feel like we’ve earned it, we attach more significance to it.
Don’t forget – our digitally native audience are glued to what are essentially fully-connected gaming consoles. The medium is already in our pockets. It’s all about getting the message right.
OTHER BENEFITS OF BRANDED GAMES
Offering incentives for completing games is one way to drive engagement. But here are a few other ways this tactic can break through the noise to deliver against key objectives…
Awareness of social issues
Bloomberg recently created a retro arcade-style game to highlight the serious issues affecting the US retail industry. Players were tasked with turning around the fortunes of a struggling mall.
One of Ready’s most successful campaigns to date was a game to promote the launch of Soap & Glory’s new XXL Sexy Mother Pucker lip-plumping gloss. The Facebook-based game challenged users to plump up a set of lips in ten seconds to win prizes.
Capture a captive audience
Sometimes a game doesn’t have to be played by the consumer. KitKat partnered with Google to create a physical version of the popular Crossy Road mobile game, and filmed leading YouTube gamers playing it against each other.
Changing the world
Sea Hero Quest is a game designed to help dementia researchers understand spatial awareness, one of the first abilities that deteriorates in dementia sufferers. Originally created in 2016, its creators (backed by Deutsche Telekom) are now back with a VR version.
So, must brands entertain or die? Maybe that’s a little strong. But it’s certainly true that paid media isn’t reaching younger audiences like it used to. So brands targeting them need a different approach.
For those without deep pockets, bespoke branded games provide an innovative, original and cost-effective way to tap into one of the world’s hottest entertainment phenomena.