Emily Stonham
13th February 2019 - 9 mins read
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amification is defined by the dictionary as ‘the process of adding games or game-like elements to something (such as a task) so as to encourage participation’. Using games in marketing can therefore be taken literally, with interactive games or apps to promote a service, or in a more abstract way, through gamification.  

Using gaming in your marketing is a fantastic way to tap into people’s natural instincts to compete and win. Psychologically speaking, most humans have an innate desire to compete. Of course, there’s plenty of people who like to just hug it out, but competition seems to be firmly rooted in our brains.

In this blog, we’re looking at everything from alternate reality games to YouTube gaming channels. I’ve collected four of my favourite examples of marketing games and gamified marketing campaigns to help inspire your next marketing move, take a look.

 

Halo 2- I love bees

The first thing that I thought of when researching for this blog post is Halo’s fantastic alternate reality game I Love Bees. This revolutionary game was not the first ARG, but it opened up a new path for creative marketing, and has led to many other innovative games since.

 

 

This game was designed to promote Halo 2, and started off with two key pieces of content. A website link to ilovebees.co was hidden in the Halo 2 cinematic trailer, and some previous ARG players received jars of honey in the post. These two events weren’t connected publicly for a while, but curiosity eventually got the better of players, who started exploring the website listed.

The website, which appeared to have originally been a beekeeping website, was covered in confusing snippets of text and code- almost as if it had been hacked (hint hint). The apparent owner of the site, Dana, posted a blog stating that her website had been compromised. Fans started to realise that this was something that could be solved, and began to work on unravelling the clues.

The premise of the game involved global co-operation between players, with practically no guidance. The players received times and GPS codes, which eventually led them to work out that they needed to go to specific payphones across the world at particular times to answer calls. Some calls were pre-recorded, others were ran by live operators which added another level to the immense detail of this ARG.

Other players worked on the website code, deciphering hidden messages that led to audio files being found that revealed a complete audio drama with the story of the game. The game increased in complexity as time went on, with players being emailed, phoned and invited to real character meetings. It all ended up with players being invited to one of four cinemas, where they could play Halo 2 before the release and get a collectible DVD.

The incredible detail and complexity of this game led to dedicated fans going above and beyond to win. One fan stayed to receive a phone call at one of the payphones whilst Hurricane Frances was merely minutes away from reaching them. I would call it a successful marketing game if players are willing to brave a hurricane, wouldn’t you?

The main thing to take away from this example is that people love games. Obviously, hosting a full scale ARG may not be the best business move, depending on your company. They require a ridiculous amount of planning and funding, and a customer base who’s going to actively engage with an interactive piece of content.

If you do have all of these things, though? Go for it. ARGs are amazing. I’d recommend listening to the podcast Rabbits- it’s one of the best pieces of fiction that I’ve ever listened to, and actually what kick-started my personal interest in ARGs in the first place.

 

UpUpDownDown

This next example is less about gamification, and more about actual video games being used for marketing. Arguably, this isn’t even a deliberate marketing move- but it’s had an amazing impact from a business perspective regardless.

UpUpDownDown is a gaming YouTube channel, run by Austin Creed. Austin Creed, more commonly known as Xavier Woods, is a member of the WWE tag team The New Day. This channel is hosted by Austin, and features a whole host of other WWE stars in every video. The channel is very successful (1.7M subscribers, at the time of writing) and I’m personally a big fan of the content that they produce.

The thing that intrigues me with this is how easily it slots into WWE’s marketing strategy. There’s the obvious benefits of it being a successful channel with a large audience- merchandise, brand deals and brand awareness for WWE. It also provides a more unique form of content for WWE fans, and can subtly encourage more hype around upcoming events, simply by mentioning it in a video.

The channel even has an impact on the TV show itself- The New Day have a set of ring gear (wrestling clothes) which is themed around UpUpDownDown.

When the channel was first created, it didn’t seem to fit WWE’s image so much. Obviously, it’s a project of Austin’s, but I believe the channel does benefit WWE in quite a few ways. There’s been collaborations with one of WWE’s own side channels, for example. Did it really match the theme of a wrestling company to be associated with a video gaming channel? Apparently so.

The lesson to learn from this marketing move is it’s important  to step outside of your comfort zone, every once in a while. Obviously, consider your actions and consider how your audience will perceive them (maybe don’t work with a pizza company if you’re a health food promoter). But do experiment with new platforms and forms of content, to keep your audience on their toes.

 

McDonald’s Monopoly

This is one of the most well-known examples of gamification in marketing, and it’s been around since 1987.The premise is simple- it’s basically fast food monopoly. Players collect tokens with their food purchases, and trade them in for prizes. These prizes can range from free food, all the way up to huge cash prizes.

The prizes for this game are so good, in fact, that there was a huge scandal involving fraud back in 2001. An employee figured out how to cheat the system, and ended up scamming ridiculous amounts of money out of McDonald’s. He ended up with a three year jail sentence, and 50 other people were convicted. Personally, I think I’d rather stick with the free dessert as a prize rather than a jail sentence, but each to their own.

In all seriousness, the longevity of this campaign shows how successful it is. The game encourages repeat business in a short amount of time, and successfully uses both print and digital to drive up hype around the campaign. I’ve even been sucked into this game before at my previous job, where the staff would band together and collect tokens as an entire team. I don’t even eat at McDonald’s regularly, I just wanted to play the game.

That’s the key takeaway from this campaign. If you’re going to use games or gamification, it needs to be simple and fun. If you can’t give a 30 second elevator pitch for the game you want your customers to play, it may be too complex and time consuming to drive any good levels of engagement. Keep it simple and fun, and try to avoid getting scammed for $24 million too.

 

Volkswagen Fun Theory

This final example is iconic in the gamification industry. Volkswagen created the Fun Theory campaign, to show how people’s behaviour could be influenced by adding an element of fun to a mundane task. This is one of my absolute favourites, as all the projects had a great impact on the environment, as well as being interesting from a psychological point of view.

There were numerous projects in the Fun Theory- my favourites being the piano stairs, the 50 foot drop bin and the bottle bin arcade. These were simple yet brilliant ideas, turning boring acts like walking up the stairs or recycling into something fun.

 

 

 

By turning the stairs into a working piano, a large majority of people took the stairs over using the escalator. The 50 foot drop bin and the arcade bin encouraged more people to recycle and pick up their rubbish. The positive effects of this campaign were amazing, and just go to show that gamification can have real impacts on the world.

The main lesson to learn from this campaign is that, generally speaking, people like to play. Gamification offers excitement and competition where there might not originally be any. If you’ve got a product that could stereotypically be considered quite dry or dull, using games in your marketing strategy could be a wonderful way to create excitement about your brand.

 

Overall

Overall, it’s worth your while adding an element of gaming into your marketing strategy. But how should you go about doing this?

If you’ve got the resources to do an ARG- go for it. They’re brilliant for engagement and brand loyalty, and are a great way to attract media coverage too. 

Try to step out of your comfort zone, too. If you always do the same thing over and over, people won’t keep coming back to your content as they’ll know what’s going to happen next. Surprise them. Launch a scavenger hunt, or release a mobile app. Maybe try using an online quiz, if you’re not sure about how to get started with gaming.

Remember to keep it simple and entertaining. If you have to spend more than 30 seconds explaining it, the novelty is gone and you won’t get very high levels of engagement. Add a points system to your game so people don’t have to track it themselves, or only ask people five questions instead of 50 in a quiz. Loyalty cards are another simple and popular way to add gamification into your marketing content as well.

If you’re still not sure about using games in your marketing content, or don’t know where to get started, get in touch with Thirty Seven today. We offer interactive game design services, and also other useful content creation services for gamification like contest or survey design. We’d be delighted to help with your marketing strategy and content creation, get in touch today at hello@thirtyseven.agency or 0118 380 0975.

 

Marketing

Celebrities vs locals- the rise of the micro-influencer

Emily Stonham 7th December 2018 — 5 mins read
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his used to be the best way to use influencer marketing in business. Looking to sell a new perfume? Find out who your target audience is, figure out who’s on the posters on their bedroom wall and there’s your answer. And there’s nothing wrong with this, per se. Celebrity endorsements do still work, specifically for brands and luxury goods on social media.

But there’s a fairly new form of endorsement sneakily taking over the marketing and advertising industries: micro-influencers. Using these influencers is becoming more and more common as modern brands see the value of scaling down their campaigns to reach a more targeted audience.

Firstly, what exactly is a micro-influencer? Tribe (a popular platform which connects influencers to brands) defines micro-influencers as ‘everyday people with a decent following’ who post about specific niche interests and passions. ‘Micro’ is fairly subjective, but in terms of social media it usually revolves around having a few thousand followers who interact with your content regularly.

This is a great way of summing it up, as one of the main advantages of micro-influencers is that they’re just normal people who’ve done well for themselves online.

One of the reasons that celebrity endorsements sometimes don’t do as well in modern society is because consumers are now aware of how polished and honed a celebrity appearance online is. Sure, they might be raving about how much they love that new sweatshirt, but they’ve probably been given it for free on a PR list and had six people work on the social media post before posting. It looks great, but it just isn’t authentic.

Most modern consumers want authenticity - specifically younger consumers, for whom this form of marketing is so relevant. Despite the media raving about how younger generations are addicted to social media and celebrities, many are actually turning away from a digital-focused life. The pressures of keeping up a perfect appearance online and trying to live like idols can have a huge impact on mental health and well-being.

Thus, highly polished celebrity endorsements just don’t have the same impact that they did 10 years ago. There seems to be a rising lack of trust in big brands and celebrities, which is affecting the way consumers behave. Just Google a brand name with ‘conspiracy theory’ or ‘scam’ behind it. There’ll probably be someone who’s convinced that the brand works for the Illuminati. And who’s to say they don’t?

In all seriousness, marketers need to be aware of this shift in attitude, especially if they’re targeting younger audiences. Micro-influencers are the perfect way to promote products and communicate with an audience, without losing their interest and trust. This may not seem like the best marketing strategy if you’re a large brand, but like I said earlier, there’s a lot of large brands using micro-influencers to their advantage.

One key example of micro-influencers being used is ASOS’s insiders. The ‘insiders’ are a team of fashion influencers who use their personal social accounts to promote ASOS content and engage with their audience. This particular influencer marketing scheme is famous in the industry as it’s incredibly successful.

The influencers all have unique styles, ranging from 90s tomboy chic to over-sized LA vintage. There’s something for everyone, and it’s clear that these are all styles that the influencers are genuinely passionate about. Therefore, it’s easy for consumers to relate to these people and feel more invested in their lives.

Obviously, these influencers now have large followings, but they all started out as just regular folk posting on Instagram. They’re now present across multiple platforms and constantly growing their audience. The appeal is how normal these people are. Who would you rather listen to for a review? A multi-millionaire celebrity or someone who you’d probably bump into in your favourite store?

Another great user of micro-influencers is Glossier. The company has a great online presence, particularly on Instagram. There are two elements that it’s aced for influencer marketing: fashion micro-influencers and niche memers.

Firstly, it uses a lot of user-generated content and micro-influencers to promote its products. It recently launched a referral program to reward its most loyal and influential fans online, which is boosting its profile even further.

Glossier creator Emily Weiss said recently in an interview that something that motivated her team was the idea of ‘every woman being an influencer’. This can be seen on its Instagram where it frequently reposts and celebrates its followers who promote its products. The overlap between micro-influencers and user-generated content is growing, and it has created nothing but positivity for Glossier.

It has also cracked the niche meme market well, which is notorious for the number of micro-influencers it’s created. Niche memes are a unique style of online content, specifically found on Instagram, which are very personal and visual posts. They’re often in the style of mood boards or aesthetic posts, but they originally started as more of a scrapbook/visual diary-styled post for people to express themselves and talk about sensitive topics online.

The fact that these niche memes are so personal means that people often post about their favourite brands and shops, and this is where micro-influencers come in. Glossier has collaborated with a number of moodboard/niche meme accounts and given them discount codes to promote to their followers.

This was a great move on Glossier’s part, as niche meme followers are normally incredibly invested in the pages that they follow and trust the owner’s opinions much more than they’d trust a celebrity. A lot of brands have done this, but few have achieved the success rates and status that Glossier gained from this marketing move.

So, what does this mean for your business?

If you’re considering using influencers, it’s worth looking into micro-influencers. Take some time to research what pages are relatively popular on your chosen platform, or look into influencer platforms like Tribe or AspireIQ. Using a smaller but more targeted page can often lead to better results and a more positive reaction from your audience.

If you’re set on using a celebrity or someone with a huge following, think about the authenticity of your message. Would that person’s audience really like what you’re asking them to promote? If not, your brand is going to seem fake and untrustworthy. Try chatting with them for a while to find out more about their audience and previous sponsored content, to get a better feel for how you could work with them.

On a broader level, think about the authenticity of your brand’s advertising and marketing campaigns. Consider whether your audience is going to actually like your product and your message, or whether you’re just trying to reach as many people as possible. Modern consumers are intelligent, and they can spot a fake review or endorsement a mile away.

 

Thirty Seven is proud to offer a huge range of content creation and marketing services. Get in touch with us today to see how we could help your business.

Mark Mars
19th February 2018 - 3 mins read

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