Thursday, 4 February 2010

Advertising is the last thing you should do

I have a tendency to keep hold of presentations from throughout my career, sort of like a geek photo album. I was browsing though some t'other day from a few years ago, and found a [not that] old brand positioning deck prepared by an ad agency. It was full of smart insight that logically defined an emotive and differentiated territory that could create a business advantage for the brand in question. Then it finished with a load of TV scripts. Much as I like Mad Men (and the collected works of Bill Bernbach for that matter) I was shocked at how out of date it seemed. There was plenty of insight, but no idea: just a leap from insight to advertising, without any consideration of whether advertising might be the most effective way of spreading an idea.

The reason this struck me is because I've been watching a lot of kids TV recently. Or rather, my son has, and I've been trying to ignore it while I've been in the room. And there's an ad running on there for a game called Code of Everand, which was dreamed up by some smart folk at work for the Dept of Transport. Code of Everand is grounded in the fact that 8-10 year olds know that crossing the road is dangerous. Advertising that explained or dramatised the danger would therefore be ignorable, as it is something so obvious. Not to mention that fact that people don't tend to like being preached to. 8-10 year olds also love multiplayer games, particularly free multiplayer flash ones.

So the game was designed to use roadcrossing skills in gameplay - setting challenges, completion of which demanded taking on fast moving monsters to move around and gain concentration points. The background is here

The fast moving monsters move from at 180 degrees to you, and their motion is based (through some genius data analysis by game developers Area/Code) on actual traffic movement data. So although the concept and gameplay is professional standard, the skills that are required to succeed are those of safe road crossing. So learning desired behaviour rather than being told to do it.

Actually there are a lot of people who are telling participants how to do it safely - there have been fansites and forums appearing since the game was launched late last year: roughly this manyTo the extent that there are already cheat guides for it. That makes sense, as it seems designed not to look like public information, but like anything else that someone might be playing, as these comments from a PlayBBG post make clear:In fact the attention that it is starting to generate, while not actually competing with big commercial releases, does at least figure on the same chart as them:which is in no small part down to those ads that I saw on kids TV. Because after months of research and a year's development to understand what could drive behavioral change and how people could become involved in it, the idea (the game) was realised, and after a further 3 months of allowing gamers to play it, find cheats, post tips, and build the ecosystem that any realistic game requires, then advertising had a role. To let people know about a free game.


Sam said...

Great post Graeme, advertising driving to something interactive, who'dathunkit?!?

LC David said...

Great job Graeme, advertising is final step to get success of any brand.....
Thanks for sharing idea...Videos

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