Saturday, 9 October 2010

McDonald's FarmVille Promotion - Brands and Social Gaming

Electronic Arts recently (Sept.14th, 2010) revealed results from a study conducted by The Nielsen Company, which shows the degree to which brand advertisements within video games can boost real life sales.  The study, commissioned by EA on behalf of Gatorade, shows that in-game advertising increased household dollars spent on Gatorade by 24%, and offered a return on investment of $3.11.  Gatorade had a variety of product placements within EA games including arena signs, players' water bottles, score updates and other call outs.

With social networks permeating our daily lives, entertainment is being redefined and is going back to its roots.  It’s getting social again.  Social games already alter the way people use Facebook .  Gamers stick around longer, use more of their online time on Facebook, and log in more regularly.  Facebook Connect will only make things even more pervasive.

Case in point - McDonald’s just created a branded farm on Farmville in a special one day event. Essentially, McDonald’s will become a “Neighbour Farm” to every player in the world for a day, this allows players to come and work on the McDonald’s Farmville Farm, helping to grow things like tomatoes and mustard seeds.  Players will be rewarded with all sorts of virtual McCafe items that allow them to grow their own farms twice as fast! Plus, they also get a McDonald’s hot air balloon flyover for their efforts.

The exposure is seriously huge for McDonald’s, who gains almost instant exposure and potential brand interaction to the near seventy (70) million active Farmville players around the world. The only other brand to have partnered with Farmville was Microsoft’s Bing earlier this year.

Advertainment is a relatively new form of advertising medium that blurs conventional distinctions between what constitutes advertising and what constitutes entertainment. Branded content is essentially a fusion of the two into one product intended to be distributed as entertainment content, albeit with a highly branded quality. Advertainment, unlike conventional forms of entertainment content, is generally funded entirely by a brand or corporation rather than, for example, a Movie studio or a group of producers. However, it can be argued that this is just a new name for the same type of marketing that was pioneered by soap manufacturers in the early days of radio and television with the soap opera.  What do you think?

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