Branded Entertainment: In-Game, Around Programs

By their very nature, static in-game ads may be the least effective way for marketers to engage video-game players, says game developer Kevin Slavin. At the same time, he finds that ad agencies in general don’t really understand the dramatically different process of communicating with consumers from within a video-game system. This is second part of our interview with Slavin, a former ad agency executive and co-founder of New York’s Area/Code. The 4-year-old game-design shop has created games for A&E, Discovery and MTV.
In television’s latest quest to discourage viewers from skipping ads, actors from NBC and ABC shows are appearing in character in commercials to interact with products in parallel story lines. This new kind of commercial further blurs the line between program and advertisement and comes as traditional product placements within shows, an early response to fast-forwarding, have become common. A series of spots that debuted this week weaves Palm Inc.‘s Pre phone more deeply into the story line of two prime-time dramas.
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Ryanair v Luggage, Microsoft v Wii

Ryanair is considering asking passengers to load their own luggage into aircraft holds to save money on baggage handlers, according to reports. Ryanair’s move to explore the option of using passengers as baggage handlers comes as it posted its first loss since it floated 12 years ago.


Sony, Microsoft Motion Controls Will Beat Wii at Its Own Game
Nintendo Wii‘s role as king of motion gaming consoles is at risk. Sony and Microsoft have both previewed motion control systems at the E3 video game expo, and both systems knock Wii clean off the throne–even though neither has announced when their controllers will become available to the public.

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The Sims 3 Sidekick

I was alerted to the new Sims 3 campaign by Alina. I was underwhelmed by their mandatory Facebook, Twitter, YouTube pages, but was intrigued by the Sim Sidekick (for a couple of minutes anyway). You can choose from six characters on the website, and the one you pick follows you around the web, interacting with site-specific responses designed for different sites. (The abovementioned  Twitter,, YouTube and so on.) I took a random sidekick for a spin. He liked my blog (apparently) but wasn’t a huge fan of Facebook…

sims 3 avatar

sims 3 facebook

sims 3 twitter

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Metrics an Obstacle to Integration, Women Gamers

While 59% of client-side marketers are satisfied with their companies’ progress toward integrating traditional and digital media, most also agree that inadequate metrics continue to be the biggest impediment to honing the media mix, a new survey of 294 Association of National Advertisers and American Association of Advertising Agencies members has confirmed. The study, which focused specifically on integration issues, found agencies’ biggest frustration to be clients’ lack of understanding of how customers use digital media.
According to Nielsen Games, gamers are looking a lot more feminine then you might expect. True, the most-active console users fit the stereotype—male, ages 12 to 17 with annual household income of $70,000 or more. They mostly played PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. However, gaming has grown increasingly popular among older players, other demographic groups—and women. Women ages 25 and older tended to be more faithful to their consoles than men of the same age, making building customer loyalty among console-makers a good strategy. What games do men and women mostly play on computers? Solitaire, FreeCell, Hearts, Minesweeper and Pinball—all games that generally come prepackaged with many PCs.
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US Adults Spend Eight Hours A Day In Front Of A Screen

Adults Spend 8 Hours a Day in Front of a Screen, Study Finds
The average American adult is exposed to various screens — TV, personal computers, cell phones, video games, GPS units and more — for about 8.5 hours every day, according to a Nielsen-backed study conducted by Ball State University‘s Center for Media Design. The study followed 350 test subjects and tracked their viewing instead of using the traditional method of allowing subjects to report on their media consumption. Adults ages 45 to 54 spend on average one hour per day more with screens than others. Overall, Americans are exposed to just more than five hours of live TV per day compared with 15 minutes of DVR playback and 2.4 minutes of computer video.


Among other finds:

— computer video consumption tends to be quite small with an average time of just over two minutes a day.

— Adults spend an average of 6.5 minutes a day with with the number rising to 26 minutes a day among those aged 18-24

— Adults spend an average 142 minutes a day in front of computer screens

— Adults spend an average 20 minutes a day engaged with mobile devices with the highest usage — 43 minutes a day — among the 18-24 age group

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WANT, Hand Me Down

WANT is an interactive (anti) retail experience created by the the University of Washington’s Environmental Design class. The exhibit is designed to make learning about saving money a pleasurable experience. Actual goods are replaced with lookalike objects that preach the benefits of thrift. It’s an interesting subversion, encoding a message at-odds with the inherent nature of the retail environment.
Clearly, most of us are consuming far more than we need or should. We live in a culture characterized by planned obsolescence and throwaway fashion. And some progressive brands like howies with their hand me down range are beginning to address the issue.

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Screw-Ups: Zombie Treasure Hunt, Snckrz

A marketing stunt involving a “treasure hunt” for convincing-looking human remains across central London has gone awry, according to organisers, with a number of bloodied body parts (and chicken livers) going missing. The stunt was orchestrated by Monument PR to promote tomorrow’s Friday the 13th launch of console game ‘Resident Evil 5′, a zombie and gore-focused title. The stunt involved a treasure hunt in which around 50 members of the public had to retrieve various legs, arms, heads and torsos from a number of secret locations.

Mars forces Poke to shut down Snckrz site
Mars has forced the digital agency Poke to shut down an unauthorised website that encouraged users to create their own logo for the chocolate bar Snickers. Consumers could type whatever slogan they wanted on to the site, at, and the words would appear on the logo on the front of a Snickers bar.



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Asia: Couplelook, Maple Story

Couplelook: Dressing the Same in Seoul Evidently there is a trend among young South Korean couples and honeymooners known as “Couplelook.” Essentially, couples match their clothing together. Originally, it was full on matching of outfits, but recently, the trend has evolved into more subtle details, such as matching watches, glasses, or sneakers. The most common manifestation are matching t-shirts. Some high end brands are even offering special Couplelook outfits and there are even a few stores that specialize in the look.


Woman arrested for killing virtual husband in Maple Story A Japanese piano teacher has been arrested for the murder of her virtual husband after an abrupt but messy online divorce. The 43-year-old from Kyushu province in southern Japan faces a maximum sentence of five years in jail if she is found guilty of killing off her digital partner. She is accused of hacking into the profile of a 33-year-old office worker from Sapporo 620 miles away, whose avatar on the Maple Story computer game was married to her character until he unexpectedly demanded a divorce. The spurned make-believe wife was so angry at being jilted that she logged into the game using her partner’s password and destroyed the character that he had spent a year creating. She was arrested at home in Miyazaki yesterday on suspicion of illegal access on a computer and manipulating electronic data, according to police in Sapporo where she is being detained. The woman has not been formally charged. If convicted she could be jailed or fined up to £3,100.


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Gaming: Videogamers (apparently) aren’t Losers, Virtual insanity

There is an old curse that goes like this: “May you live in interesting times” It doesn’t get any more interesting than two recent strange news stories about digital worlds sparking irrational behavior in the real world. These two items illustrate the weird problems we could be encountering on a regular basis as bleed-through increases across the border of the real and virtual worlds.
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