the more commercial guitar hero

January 7, 2009 ·

i picked up the guitar hero world tour set for our wii over the holidays. great addition to the series, but one that was clearly marked with it's commercial success. of course i'm talking about all the advertising that is very visible throughout.

the first instance is as soon as you open the case, a coupon from kfc.


then throughout the gameplay you're peppered with a number of other placements like the coke and kfc bucket below.


as someone in advertising, these efforts are all good in my book. video games have emerged as a mainstream vehicle, whose viability as a new medium is very clear. i say all this with one caveat of course, and that's relevance. there's a place for everything and marketers have to find the right ones or else it's wasted money and consumer dissonance.

the examples above are well suited, in my mind, to the environment you find them in. kudos to those companies, they did a good job. but then there's the flops. also featured in the game is a prominent sign for at&t (i wish i could get a picture to show you, but there's not a still frame to take something of quality). i don't see what place it has in a video game about rock and roll. there's a disconnect, and it's not integrated within the game or story as the others.

it's our responsibility as marketers and agencies to find appropriate venues for our products to be placed. just because it is a hot game, on an emerging platform doesn't mean we should get involved blindly because on paper i makes sense to form some, even loose association. sure there's eyeballs, but what's the quality of your implementation?

i see three main guardrails we all should adhere to so we don't ruin the space and make our efforts just more wallpaper.

  1. relevance: does the product or service have a legitimate place within the theme or story of the game? does it fit environmentally?
  2. value: does it enhance the the user's experience and give them something they might actually want?
  3. integration: is the product or service inserted in a way that is thoughtful and not just slapped on?
there's so much opportunity in video games that has yet to be realized, but just jumping to it without thinking hard about how we do it isn't a recipe for success. it is a highly immersive and interactive medium and that is where success lies. by it's very nature, the audience is ripe, but only if it's handled with care because it's also very personal.

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