Author: Mike Rowan, President, Founder @KPITarget
As part of our efforts to keep our content marketing initiatives fresh in 2019, we will be writing about innovative strategies that we feel will become more viable moving into the future.
One strategy that has always presented itself as an extremely viable option from a marketing perspective is the ability to procure placements in the virtual worlds that exist in today’s video games.
Let’s explore a purely hypothetical scenario where we could leverage the rabid participation in Fortnite to not only promote a brand, but also to drive revenue to their bottom line without ever spending a dollar on producing an actual product.
While I have never participated in the actual game, Fortnite was a constant topic amongst my older nephews over the holiday season. Their parents were aghast at how much time they spend in the virtual world, and how the game was extraordinarily addictive, and was replacing the way in which they hung out with their friends.
As always, the marketer in me is always intrigued by technologies that envelop a user’s attention, and I tried to learn more about how brands could leverage the massive participation in the game to tactfully insert themselves into the game’s experience.
My eyes were really opened upon learning about some of the actual spending behavior that was taking place in format. We were leaving to go out on a family excursion, when I saw one of my nephews having a meltdown because he wanted to get a “gingerbread skin” that his user would wear around the game.
As strange as that was to me, I was then flabbergasted to find out that he would also have to pay $20 to purchase this virtual outfit. Not only has Fortnite captured people’s attention, but they were also getting them to pay real money for something that literally wasn’t real, and didn’t cost them anything to make.
Letting my imagination run wild, I started to think about how a real-world brand could insert themselves into the equation …
When thinking about actual brands that would be a great fit for this imaginary strategy, I kept on coming back to Red Bull. They are definitely focused on a millennial type of audience, and would probably be well poised to continue to exert their dominance in the younger generations. Their buyers are online, and consider it second nature to make purchases through a virtual wallet, or something similar.
To tie in the brand to the game, wouldn’t it be cool if there were an energy drink that a player could access that would give them “wings” and reinstate their health? The game already boasts restorative potions such as “Slurp Juice” and “Chug-Jugs”, which restores the character’s health by varying degrees, so this would either be additive, or replace these current versions.
Since the underlying foundation of the game is battle/action, I know that characters die when their health gets to a certain point, so access to a potion like this would definitely be in demand, especially if they could carry it with them into battle.
Let’s put it this way … if someone will pay $20 for a “gingerbread skin,” then they would certainly pay $1 for a drink that would re-energize their character.
You could make the drink a tad bit difficult to attain, which would give it an air of exclusivity and retain the general format of the game, while also labeling the drink with a highly correlated brand message that’s tied back to Red Bull.
You could call it something like FortHealth, provided by Red Bull, so it isn’t too commercial, but has strong brand recognition. Or, if you wanted to de-emphasize the commercialization of the game, you could simply put in the logo without the text to gain branding in a much more subtle way.
Like any campaign, there would have to be some deep thought into how the placement would be presented. Similar to placements on TV, you would have to be very subtle, as many times blatant branding or advertisements can actually backfire on the brand as being too corporate, resulting in a negative perception of the brand.
For example, this was the initial reaction to ads on Facebook, as users saw this as a “safe place,” outside the realm of corporate influence, and it took a bit of work to gain traction and acceptance from the users. We could see similar behavior from users on Fortnite, so would definitely have to tread carefully.
The campaign itself would be great for RedBull, as they would not only tap into the spending behavior of an up-and-coming generation and establish the brand as “cool,” but would also literally have the ability to drive a large amount of revenue to their bottom line without having to spend the first cent on an actual product or maintain inventory.
As mentioned at the beginning of this article, this is purely a hypothetical situation, but It’s fun to dream, and what a great concept!