Commercialized: Marketing to the Gamer Generations

By Nick Breckon, Apr 28, 2008 8:49am PDT Ever since the Nintendo generation was born, marketing chiefs have used games as a way to connect with a younger demographic. This is nothing new.

What is new is the recent spate of advertising aimed squarely at older gamers. Whether it be for automobile or airline companies, soft drinks or sandwiches, ad men are more and more beginning to use video games as a hook to sell serious products.

Join us as we take a look at some examples of game-influenced ads, old and new.

And check out the Evolution of Nintendo Commercials for more advertising examination.

Coca-Cola: Grand Theft Auto (link to this video)
This cheerful take on Rockstar's Grand Theft Auto series debuted in 2006.

The conservative side of the Coke machine is shown here, transforming the hardcore realm of Rockstar into a happy land where, coincidentally, everyone drinks cola. Or, as we refer to it, Jack Thompson's wet dream.

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Honda: Tetris (link to this video)
Some advertisers choose iconic rather than topical games for their fodder.

This Tetris-inspired Honda ad gets major points for using the original game's sound effects and Russian Korobeiniki tune.

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Subway: Pacman (link to this video)
This poor child. I mean, what a way to break it to your kid that he has a problem.

Subway should be ashamed of themselves. But hey, at least it's not another Jared spot.

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Reese's: Pacman (link to this video)
Of course, Subway was far from the first to release a Pacman-derived commercial. Here we see the power of peanut butter and chocolate combining to create.. fat kids?

I suppose this has a nice cyclical harmony with that Subway ad after all.

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Jetblue: Video Games (link to this video)
Jetblue is so hip. Just look at them, with their indie, low-budget, crayon-on-paper style. I suppose I'm just jealous. I never get to fly Jetblue.

This is a good example of a spot that keys into gaming as a whole, rather than a specific title, ensuring the recognition of a broad demographic.

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Hummer: Racing Games (link to this video)
GM would like you to believe that driving a Hummer is a lot like playing MotorStorm. In reality, it's more like playing Battlefield 2, on a 100,000-person server, with jerks who keep cutting in front of you--and no guns.

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Pontiac: Spy Hunter (link to this video)
The demographic that grew up with games like Spy Hunter is just now wresting control of the world from the baby boomers. And with power, comes new car purchases.

I'm not sure I get their tag-line, but Pontiac is sure trying to make that connection.

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Ralston Cereals: Nintendo
Now we enter the scary realm of direct tie-in products and advertising.

What do you do when you have a lot of leftover cereal that vaguely looks like video game iconography? Thus, the Nintendo Cereal System by Ralston Cereals. Double-dipping a product has never tasted so good.

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_PAGE_BREAK_ Mountain Dew: Halo 3 (link to this video)
Screaming gamers on Xbox Live that drink too much Mountain Dew? That's not an ad, that's reality TV.

The reality is that the image of screaming Xbox Livers is probably more iconic than even Master Chief himself.

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Nabisco: Nintendo (link to this video)
I could really relate to this commercial back in 1988. I mean, who didn't like Oreos? Who didn't want to win Blades of Steel? Whose dog didn't erase all their saved games in the middle of the night?

She ate my homework, too. And the instruction manual to Top Gun.

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Coca-Cola: World of Warcraft (link to this video)
Blizzard teamed up with Coke for this 2006 Chinese ad. The message: Coke empowers women, and if you play World of Warcraft, you'll meet some that look like this.

As advertisements go, this one is pretty misleading, though not for the obvious reasons. I mean, a chest full of Coke? Talk about the lamest loot you could ever find. Roll for trash.

Also, as ZombieAcademy studiously points out, the Dawn of War cinematic wizards at Blur Studio are responsible for this fine work.

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Toyota: World of Warcraft (link to this video)
Most of you have probably seen this famous spot. Notable for its in-game style and Leroy Jenkins in-joke, the World of Warcraft Toyota ad broke new ground for game-based advertising.

With the exception of Nintendo, few modern gaming properties have the audience or brand recognition to support this kind of specifically targeted approach. A sign of things to come.

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