2013 was a banner year for brands leveraging digital media to engage with their customers. One avenue elite brands are choosing to explore is the development of games to transform their advertising to something equal parts fun, educational and ROI-worthy. We asked nFusion VP and Executive Creative Director Bass Phillips to give us his take on games — and gamification done well — for marketers who wish to make a broader impact for their brands in 2014.
“I’m drawn to the power of Chipotle’s Scarecrow game — the latest extension of a campaign that has evolved over the past couple of years — which has transcended advertising the way it engages with customers.
“It all began with the video, Back to the Start, which encouraged sustainable farming and supported the brand’s commitment to ‘Food With Integrity.’ Chipotle’s latest campaign, The Scarecrow, also uses a beautifully animated video, this time in support of an app extension: a game that makes you more aware of what you’re eating. You play the game and become a better farmer using more natural ingredients. The more natural you are, the more sustainable you are, the more successful you are.
“I’m assuming that Chipotle’s strategy, while beautiful in both rounds of execution, evolved because the brand felt it was leaving something on the table by not reaching out to a younger audience who could be key decision makers and influencers. Maybe they have data that says the decision making is coming from the back of the minivan. I have two daughters and I’m always asking, ‘What do you guys feel like eating?’ and from the back of the car comes, ‘Chipotle, Chipotle, Chipotle!’ ‘But you don’t like Mexican food,’ I say and they reply, ‘But, Dad, did you know Chipotle is good for the planet?’ The kids are learning to appreciate healthier choices, even when it comes to quick-serve restaurants. It’s really quite amazing that they are establishing a brand preference through this elegantly crafted game.”
Marketers who can offer this level of sophisticated creativity to complement their other digital (and traditional) efforts will reap the rewards of engaging a wider audience and keeping them engaged. By combining entertainment, play and education brands can sow the seeds of interest across generations of appreciative customers. But marketers must still be mindful that this sort of campaign extension requires extensive consumer testing to ensure it hits the target the right way.