In-game scavenger hunt proves itself

tropicIn-game advertising has taken a big leap with a new campaign for Paramount Picture’s new film Tropic Thunder. This month the action film is being advertised through an in-game scavenger hunt within Rainbow Six: Vegas 2. The hunt is comprised of nine dynamically inserted display ads, starting with a lead-in, and then follow-up clues until the final placement has a call to action to text in the user’s email address to a short code. This final step enrolls the user into Ubisoft’s VIP service, and automatically enters them into a sweepstakes.

I’ve long been a proponent of embedding calls to action within in-game ads, believing that dynamic in-game advertising is far more effective a platform when incorporated into a larger strategy. As the campaign is ongoing, there are no metrics to be discussed, but there are a few key points to examine in this campaign to better understand how in-game advertising can be leveraged successfully.

The Good:
• The campaign branches beyond the in-game space with the call to action.
• The campaign makes use of the digital space by tying the multiple placements together into a “scavenger hunt.”
• The brand (Tropic Thunder) fits naturally with the audience of the game.

The Bad:
• Lack of branding – the campaign largely missed an opportunity for utilizing brand-conscious creative. The product is a comedy film, but there’s nothing funny about the campaign. If this were for a “Carmen San Diego” IP, the scavenger hunt alone makes sense. There should have been better branding in this execution. This could have even taken place after the call to action, instead of directly ending up in a sweepstakes.

The Ugly:
• Requesting an email address via SMS. The in-game ad doesn’t specify what is going to happen with the e-mail address, or what sort of communication the user will receive. On one hand, an in-game call to action faces the issue of interruption to gameplay – so engaging via mobile makes sense as a quick and easy way to respond. But email addresses are a pain to enter in a mobile, especially in addition the short code, and it’s also a fairly trusting action to request right off the bat.

Overall, the campaign is predominately a good idea. The few shortcomings could be easily fixed for future campaigns, and this does well to establish a new bar for dynamic in-game advertisements.