Video games are an exciting new medium, primarily because of the potential for huge profits. These profits won’t just fall into our laps, though. Video games are unlike other media, and as such we cannot rely on the same tired marketing tactics. An annoying tagline like “can you hear me now?” may work on TV, but that’s because TV viewers are morons. The gamer is slightly more clever and we must treat him as such. Because most marketing is aimed at stupid people, most ad agencies will not have the know how to target a gaming audience. This guide, specifically tailored to the advertising needs of the video game advert, will lead you step by step to your ultimate goal: Take money from the ignorant.
1. Target your demographic
An ad, no matter how clever and well thought out, will not make an impact if it is seen by the wrong audience. Advertising ring pops to the elderly is simply a waste of resources. If you do your research, it is even possible to directly hit multiple sections of society with the same spot.
In this example we see a Yale billboard in the 50 Cent game Bulletproof. This is marketing genius because the agency clearly understands that urban themed games are typically played by white males in junior high. A good number of these boys will eventually end up in college and in gangs, which are called fraternities if they are mostly white. But notice this ad does double duty by the creative copy, which references the President’s drug habit while in school. This targets the few actual drug dealers who play urban themed games while they’re not busy shooting guns at each other. A good ad targets 75% of the audience; a great ad targets all of it.
2. Don’t neglect future demographics
In the last example I mentioned how selling children’s products to adults is a waste of time and effort, but the opposite is not always true. While a senior is unlikely to discover the joy of Legos, children will often grow into a product.
This clever Marlboro ad depicts Curious George, a long time favorite children’s character, puffing away on a Marlboro cigarette. This ad could have easily backfired on the company, but they matched their product perfectly with the game’s mascot. Despite being small and humanoid, Curious George is not a child but rather a monkey. Society views children smoking as tragic, yet a smoking monkey is adorable to anyone with a heart. The ad even deflects possible attacks from extremists in animal welfare groups because of the particular monkey it shows smoking. Curious George is, by his very nature, curious. The game does not need to condone smoking to work the puffing monkey into its gameplay because George is constantly doing random things. Maybe PETA would see Michael Jackson’s monkey Bubbles smoking as a crime, but he is known for being un-inquisitive and closed minded. Curious George is a monkey of a different caliber and should be respected as such.
The lesson to be learned is think ahead. Where will your audience be in a year, in a decade? An advertiser would be wise to incorporate beer spots in a children’s football game because a good percentage of those kids will grow up to be alcoholics. A NASCAR game could include coffins with a Confederate flag design. The demographic playing this game may not be dying now, but give them time, they will.