Madden Ads have Always Been Excellent

DISCLAIMER: Now that the summer is over, I’m going to start treating this as an actual blog where I can talk about game ads. Originally this started as a class final project, and it’s still all on the site, but new features will be updated when I feel the need to wax about some form of game advertising. The parameters defined within the original report itself will still work in these: I’m talking about ads for games, ads within games, and ads through games.

So I hope everyone has seen the three and a half minute masterpiece made by EA for Madden 15. If not, go watch it, please. I can’t name one thing in which I’ve actually seen Dave Franco, and I don’t have an opinion at all about Kevin Hart other than “well he looks like he’s having a fun time out there, really seems to enjoy being famous and all,” but this short film of a commercial got me excited for Madden Season, regardless of the fact that I’ll never play Madden against anyone because I haven’t bought a Madden game since Madden 11 on the PSP and surprisingly few people I know even care about Madden anymore. It’s all FIFA now.

That doesn’t take away from the fact that Madden’s ad teams always tend to come up with memorable TV spots and magazine ads.

Madden 2005

Madden 2005 was the first year in which EA Sports claimed to have fixed the series’ defensive troubles, which was never anything they ever had to advertise again. Anyway, they play off of the colorful personality of former Ravens Linebacker Ray Lewis (that year’s cover athlete) and reference football broadcasts’ first-down line.

I’m sure this has been done thousands of times before, but EA chose the classic “you’re choosing video games over romance???” twist for another 2005 spot. This would have worked better had I actually come across it without any knowledge of the fact that it’s a Madden commercial, rather than finding it on YouTube with the expressed intent of looking up Madden commercials and not doing homework.

Madden 2004

A similar tactic was used in print ads for Madden 2004

Madden 2003

This is one the campaigns I remember the most, and my first introduction to the fact that athletes can actually be entertaining people. Again, Ray Lewis puts on a solid performance, along with other stars of the time like Ricky Williams, Keyshawn Johnson, and (to a lesser extent) Adam Vinatieri.

Earlier ad campaigns are harder to come across online, but here’s what I’ve found.

Madden 2000

Unfun fact: This commercial prominently features Chiefs Linebacker and Hall of Famer Derrick Thomas, who died after a car accident in February of 2000. Madden 2000 was the last Madden to feature him.

Madden 97

Whoa, I had no idea that that guy, the EA Sports Announcer guy (I don’t think he has an actual name) (His real name is Andrew Anthony), was working for them all the way back in 1996. That’s really neat and means he’s been working for EA at least almost as long as I have been alive. It’s in the game, indeed.

Anyway, buy Madden 15 or don’t, but please, for the love of god, watch a video involving a digital Richard Sherman sacking Dave Franco in an office, Damian Lillard awkwardly driving away on a motorcycle, and a classic rap verse saying exactly everything we needed to hear about Madden 15.

Advertisements

Ads and Games Sub-Topic 3, Post 3: The PlayStation 4

This is a blog covering advertising surrounding video games. This final post will cover the Sony PlayStation 4’s advertisements, including the dashboard advertisements and future possibilities.

Like the XBOX One, Sony’s PlayStation 4 (PS4) was released in November of 2013. Also similarly to the XBOX One, the PS4 uses many new advertising techniques (Mannion, 2013). These two consoles are similar to each other in many ways. Both have an add-on camera system, Microsoft’s Kinect and Sony’s PlayStation Camera, both share many games, such as Madden NFL 25 and Call of Duty: Ghosts, and both make use of dashboard advertisements (Cordell, 2013; Mannion, 2013).

The PS4’s dashboard ads are placed alongside the other items on the dashboard. On console’s welcome screen, ads for recommended games are placed on a “What’s New?” banner. The dashboard allows for video commercials to be included alongside other options on the dashboard. There is also an option for a “branded destination” where one particular product (typically a game) is displayed full screen, then purchased directly from that screen (Mannion, 2013). These different ads can help players find out the information that they need quickly and simply.

Like Microsoft, Sony is looking to implement its camera technology. In the same way, consumers are wary of what could possibly happen with that technology. Some of their ideas in a patent explained in “Sony patent is hilarious, terrifying” by Matt Vella of CNN’s Fortune Tech include interactive game-like advertisements (such using a motion-control peripheral like the PlayStation Move controller to throw pickles onto a hamburger on screen) or on-screen orders for food (such as pizza) (2013). One example, which features a viewer standing up during a McDonald’s commercial and shouting “MCDONALD’S!” at the console’s microphone to skip over the rest of the ad, was cause for mocking by Vella (2013). This sort of advertising seems intrusive, and is one of the reasons why advertising teams are creating more simple console ads, so players aren’t left with a negative feeling (Cordell, 2013).

McDonalds Ad

tech.fortune.cnn.com

Like with the XBOX One, advertisers see great potential with the PS4. If advertising with the PlayStation 4, I personally recommend using a less intrusive ad like the dashboard videos. If the advertiser is selling a product available for download from the PlayStation Network, (such as a game, movie, or television series), the PS4 offers direct purchases of said media from the ad, which is convenient for the player and could help sales of the product. Both of the new consoles are more advanced than anything else video games have ever had, and choosing to advertise with the XBOX One or PlayStation 4 will be a smart decision for the next few years as the consoles develop.

Works Cited:

Cordell, B. (2013, June 28). XBOX One Dashboard created with advertising in mind. Retrieved Feb. 19, 2014, from sticktwiddlers.com: http://www.sticktwiddlers.com/2013/06/28/xbox-one-dashboard-created-with-advertising-in-mind/

Mannion, G. (2013, Dec. 3). Sony are going full hog with dashboard advertising. Retrieved Feb. 18, 2014, from lazygamer.net: http://www.lazygamer.net/ps3/psn/sony-are-going-full-hog-with-dashboard-advertising/

Vella, M. (2013, Apr 30). Sony patent is hilarious, terrifying. Retrieved Apr 18, 2014, from Fortune Tech: http://tech.fortune.cnn.com/2013/04/30/sony-patent-is-hilarious-terrifying/

Ads and Games Sub-Topic 3, Post 2: The XBOX One

This is a blog covering advertising surrounding video games. In this post, I cover the new XBOX One’s advertising strategies. These include dashboard advertisements like on the XBOX 360 and “NUads.”

Microsoft released its Microsoft XBOX One console to the North American public in November of 2013. This machine is more advanced in terms of computing and processing power than any others that have come before it (Microsoft Advertising). Along with playing video games, the XBOX One lets players watch television and online videos, and stream music. Many of these services require advertisements to run.

Along with the new console, new features, and new games, Microsoft gave advertisers new advertising methods. In an interview with Ben Cordell of Sticktwiddlers.com, members of the XBOX Live advertising team explained some of the ways that advertisers can use the XBOX One’s technology to better advertise (Cordell, 2013). One of these ways was the development of the dashboard itself (Cordell, 2013).

xbox-one-dashboard-home

sticktwiddlers.com

The Technical Account Manager for XBOX Live Advertising described the differences between the XBOX 360 and the XBOX One by saying, “the 360 console wasn’t built with advertising in mind, it was more of an afterthought, so we’ve had to adapt to the technology and how we work to fit them in to the console, whereas this new one is going to have advertising in mind. So a lot of the limitations that we have now, hopefully the release of the boundaries will widened so the opportunities will be a lot greater” (Cordell, 2013). Since the XBOX One dashboard has built-in space for advertising, the experience is different from that with the earlier XBOX 360. With this, they are able to create advertisements that don’t have the same type of negative appeal that others may (Cordell, 2013). In Cordell (2013), XBOX Live Advertising’s Senior Art Director is quoted saying “the users know that this is something that when they click on it, they won’t be hit by something crazy or something dangerous like on the web. Everything that lands there, we create.”

Microsoft introduced its “NUads,” or “Natural User Interface Ads” in 2012 with the XBOX 360 (Shields, 2012). User interactions in these ads help both the player and the advertiser (Microsoft Advertising). During a NUad, viewers are given some form of interactivity, for example: a poll asking questions related to the spot, and then can give their input directly (Shields, 2012) (Microsoft Advertising). This process can make use of the game controller or the Kinect add-on (a peripheral machine which can track player movement and record sound) to make their input. From here, players can receive information based around the ad. This helps both the advertiser gain understanding about what the viewer wants, and helps the player learn about anything advertised that might interest them.

Microsoft has made great leaps in their advertising plans with their console. There is some backlash from people who consider the Kinect’s ability to view players during advertisements as a type of intrusive surveillance (Cordell, 2013), so Microsoft needs to be careful in how they use their technology. If done properly (and not intrusively), the XBOX One can create a positive advertising experience for players by actually helping them with the NUad technology, and not having them seem dangerous with the new dashboard.

Works Cited:

Cordell, B. (2013, June 28). XBOX One Dashboard created with advertising in mind. Retrieved Feb. 19, 2014, from sticktwiddlers.com: http://www.sticktwiddlers.com/2013/06/28/xbox-one-dashboard-created-with-advertising-in-mind/

Microsoft Advertising. (n.d.). Advertising – Xbox 360. Retrieved 18 2014, 4, from Microsoft Advertising: http://advertising.microsoft.com/en-us/xbox-360-advertising

Shields, M. (2012, June 12). Microsoft Officially Unveils NUads. Retrieved Apr 18, 2014, from Adweek: http://www.adweek.com/news/technology/microsoft-officially-unveils-nuads-141110

Ads and Games Sub-Topic 3, Post 1: Advertising in the Modern Generation

This is a blog covering the advertising techniques surrounding video games. In this subtopic, I cover the advertising techniques used in modern day gaming. In this post I talk about the trend of advertisements appearing on console dashboards, and how they can be used properly.

Current video game consoles are much different than they used to be. Now, consoles are media hubs, which can be used to not only play games, but also watch movies and television, listen to music, and browse the Internet. With these added features, advertisers found a new way to reach players: dashboard advertisements (Mannion, 2013; Musante, 2009; Usher, 2013).

The “dashboard” is the name for the home navigation menu of the game console, comparable to the desktop on a personal computer. Each of the three most recent modern home consoles, the Sony PlayStation 4 (PS4), Microsoft Xbox One, and Nintendo Wii U have dashboard screens like this.

Advertising on a console dashboard has many benefits. One of the main aspects of dashboard ads is the fact that they are interactive, compared to a television commercial or magazine ad, which is not. Interactive ads keep the viewer’s attention for longer than a traditional video spot, as shown in this graph from Ginny Musante’s 2009 report Cracking the Code on Cross Media Engagement

Graph shows that the XBOX Dashboard ad holds attention for 298 seconds compared to a Video Spot's 58

Image from Ginny Musante’s “Cracking the Code on Cross Media Engagement”

Keeping the viewer’s attention is critical for a good advertisement, and adding interactivity gives them a reason to pay attention. This report also found that the audience walks away from the interactive dashboard ads with a generally more positive response than the video spot, and also typically left a greater impact on recognition of the brand (Musante, 2009).

Most of these dashboard advertisements are different from video spots because they are interactive, and then also offer more memorable extra features. The ad featured in Musante’s report (2009) featured downloadable add-ons (such as home screen wallpapers), which players could display on their console whenever they’re getting ready to play games.

These types of “Cross-Media Engagements” help players take a greater interest in the product, rather than avoiding or ignoring an ad as they sometimes do when it comes to video spots. Having the ability to advertise with the XBOX 360’s dashboard allowed for brand new ideas to help messages be sent to players.

Works Cited

Mannion, G. (2013, Dec. 3). Sony are going full hog with dashboard advertising. Retrieved Feb. 18, 2014, from lazygamer.net: http://www.lazygamer.net/ps3/psn/sony-are-going-full-hog-with-dashboard-advertising/

Musante, G. (2009). Cracking the Code on Cross Media Engagement. Microsoft, Trade Marketing. Microsoft Advertising.

Usher, W. (2013, June 29). Xbox One’s Dashboard Has Been Optimized For Ads. Retrieved Feb 17, 2014, from cinemablend: http://www.cinemablend.com/games/Xbox-One-Dashboard-Has-Been-Optimized-Ads-57112.html

Ads and Games Sub-Topic 2, Post 3: Advergames

This is a blog covering the advertising techniques surrounding video games. In this post, I will talk about “Advergames,” games made around advertisements. I will speak on how advergaming has developed, give some examples of advergames, and discuss the morality of it.

Advergames are the inverse of product placement. Product placements are advertisements within games, using them as a medium. Advergames are games within advertisements. An et Al. (2014) describes them as being games “which embed brand information within interactive games” (p.63).

I define advergames as, essentially, aggressive product placements. Advergames are built around the product, so the basic motivation of playing the game revolves around the advertisement. Some notable early advergames were sold through Burger King in 2006. Three XBOX 360 titles, Pocketbike Racer, Sneak King, and Big Bumpin’ were sold for four dollars each at Burger King locations. These games involved the King (Burger King’s mascot), competing in races against humanized Burger King products and surprising people with breakfast sandwiches (Sinclair, 2006). The promotion was a success, though the quality of the games was generally considered to be low (Orry, 2007; Sinclair, 2006).

The 2006 Burger King XBOX promotion is an excellent example of modern advergaming for a few reasons: First, it was successful, helping increase Burger King’s profits 40% in 2006 (Orry, 2007). Secondly, it was heavy on the advertisements in game –you play as the King, and your end goal is always Burger King related (Sinclair, 2006). Finally, the game was very low in quality, which, while it doesn’t have to necessarily be, is a disappointing trend in the quality of many advergames (Sinclair, 2006).

Unfortunately, many of the targets of advergame-based advertisement are children. There is a morality issue that comes with selling advergames to children that is different from selling them to adults (An et Al., 2014). When an advertisement is given to an adult, it is not difficult for him or her to decipher whether or not it is trying to sell something. An, Jin, and Park, in their 2014 journal report Children’s Advertising Literacy for Advergames: Perception of the Game as Advertising, looked to see whether or not a group of children could recognize an advergame as an advertisement. The study found that, of students who had no prior education on distinguishing advertising in video games, 27 percent of the children sampled did not understand that the advergames were advertising to them (An, Jin, & Park, 2014). Personally, I can’t respect selling advergames to children if they cannot understand the creator’s intent.

Advergames are good for advertisers if they can pull them off successfully. I would personally recommend that the advertiser focus on both making an enjoyable game and making it not too expensive. If the game costs more than around five dollars, people might believe that it is too expensive for an advertisement. If the game is not enjoyable, they will not want to play it, and they won’t have reason to care about the ad anyway.

Works Cited:

An, S., Jin, H., & Park, E. (2014). Children’s Advertising Literacy for Advergames: Perception of the Game as Advertising. Journal of Advertising , 43 (1), 63-72.

Orry, J. (2007, Jan 31). Burger King profits up 40% thanks to Video Games. Retrieved Apr 17, 2014, from videogamer.com: http://www.videogamer.com/news/burger_king_profits_up_40_thanks_to_video_games.html

Sinclair, B. (2006, Oct. 12). Burger King orders up XBOX Games. Retrieved Apr. 17, 2014, from GameSpot: http://www.gamespot.com/articles/burger-king-orders-up-xbox-games/1100-6159158/

Ads and Games Sub-Topic 2, Post 2: Product Placement

This is a blog covering the advertising techniques surrounding video games. In this post, I discuss the technique of “Product Placement” in video games. This refers to a company placing a certain brand or product in the environment of a game. I will explain in this post how, in some cases, this can be beneficial, however, in other cases, product placement is a mistake.

Product placement is a fairly recent development in video games, though it is not going away any time soon. The term “product placement” refers to a company paying a video game developer to give a product an appearance somewhere in a game (Boyd & Lalla, 2009).

Typical product placements are placed visually within a game. Oftentimes, these appear as logos on clothing, sponsorships on television broadcasts, or even as in-game examples of real advertisements such as billboards  (Boyd & Lalla, 2009; Brown, 2006; Walsh et Al., 2013). Generally, a product placement is simply a placement and has nothing to do with the development of the game itself. If the game is based around that product placement, I’ll refer to it as what’s called an “Advergame.” (Which will be covered in the next post)

Though in many cases, product placement can be distracting, that isn’t always the case with in-game ads. Advertisements are considered a positive aspect that adds to a game’s level of realism in many sports games. Examples include the ads that cover cars in a NASCAR based game, the signage around a soccer field in a FIFA title, or a selection of Nike or Adidas products to be worn in a golf or basketball game (Boyd & Lalla, 2009; Hang & Auty, 2010; Yang Et Al., 2013). These are all real aspects of these sports, perfect for appearing in games that strive for realism.

This is the case in other games that aren’t necessarily realistic. One instance involves games based upon movies, such as the game based upon James Bond 007: NightFire, which features an Aston Martin brand car. In the game, the player can drive said car (Elkin, 2002). In a game based upon the CSI television series, players can use VISA’s fraud protection services to solve a crime (Brown, 2006).

In some cases, video game product placement is a positive aspect when it can be done properly. However, in cases when games use product placements incorrectly, it can be jarring and look ridiculous (Mai, 2010).

Image of a fantasy based character using a Pizza Hut box as a shield in Phantasy Star Portable 2

This just looks silly. Picture from Siliconera.com

Product placement only works if it is done correctly, and it can enhance the right type of game if it’s done well. If you’re looking to put product placement into a game, make sure it will make sense and it doesn’t look strange given the context. Like Wim Stocks of Atari was quoted in Product Placement on the Rise in Video Games by Erika Brown (2006), “There is a lot of swordplay in Dungeons & Dragons games, but you won’t see us putting a Remington sword in there”.

Works Cited:

Boyd, G., & Lalla, V. (2009, February 11). Emerging Issues in In-Game Advertising. Retrieved February 17, 2014, from Gamasutra: http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/132319/emerging_issues_in_ingame_.php?page=2

Brown, E. (2006, July 21). Product placement on the rise in video games. Retrieved Feb 19, 2014, from nbcnews: http://www.nbcnews.com/id/13960083/ns/technology_and_science-tech_and_gadgets/t/product-placement-rise-video-games/#.UwTbo0JdVM5

Elkin, T. (2002, May 20). Video games try product placement. Advertising Age , 73 (20), p. 157.

Hang, H., & Auty, S. (2010). Children playing branded video games: The impact of interactivity on product placement effectiveness. Journal of Consumer Psychology , 21, 65-72.

Mai, P. (2010, Apr 20). Product Placement in Video Games is Getting Ridiculous. Retrieved Apr 16, 2014, from ocweekly.com: http://blogs.ocweekly.com/heardmentality/2010/04/product_placement_in_video_games_is_getting_ridiculous.php?page=2

Yang, M., Roskos-Ewoldsen, D. R., Dinu, L., & Arpan, L. M. (2013). The Effectiveness of “In-Game” Advertising: Comparing College Students’ Explicit and Implicit Memory for Brand Names. Journal of Advertising , 35 (4), 143-152.

Ads and Games Subtopic 2 Post 1: Why Advertise With Video Games?

This is a blog covering the advertising techniques surrounding video games. In this post, I will explain why some advertisers value video games as a way to advertise. I look at the early examples of in-game advertising, such as the first tie-ins with movies. I also consider why video games are different than many other advertising platforms.

Television and print advertisements existed for many years before video games were first released commercially in the early 1970s. It did not take long for advertisers to start advertising through games. This started with what would be considered a fairly common style of in game advertising today: A game tied-in with a movie. Atari licensed the first video game based on a motion picture, for Raiders of the Lost Ark for the Atari Video Computer System in 1982 (Fairall, 2012). This release set off tie-ins like it for years to come (Dewey, 2013).

Why would people see video games as a potential location for advertising? Much of if comes down to the demographics of the players (Barrett, 2008; Dewey, 2013; Tassi, 2011). Video games have a grasp on the market of players in their teenage years and twenties, a market heavily desired by advertisers (Barrett, 2008).

President Barack Obama's campaign in 2008 featured ads in the game NFL Tour

nbcnews.com

Another important factor of in-game advertising is the fact that viewers cannot miss an in-game ad, unlike with many traditional advertisements such as television commercials. Paul Tassi (2011) believes that the move towards in-game ads is done out of desperation due to a changing market, saying in Analyst Says Video Game Advertising Will Double by 2016, “TV commercials are fastforwarded now thanks to DVRs. Magazines and newspapers have seen their subscription numbers fall, and with that the value of the advertisements within. Online is the new frontier, but with more and more users discovering the many uses of AdBlock, there’s yet another pesky workaround to be dealt with”. Audiences now skip some advertisements that they previously couldn’t. In-game advertisements cannot be skipped, which makes them unique in a new era.

In-Game ads have existed in some form since the early ‘80s, though they have changed up to today. We still see many games based on licenses, but also more product placements and games based around the ads. The reason why advertisers are looking to video games to get their products advertised is because they are a new medium covering a desirable audience, and in-game advertisements aren’t easy to bypass like many others.

Works Cited:

Barrett, D. (2008, Oct. 14). Ads for Obama campaign: ‘It’s in the game’. Retrieved Feb. 18, 2014, from nbcnews: http://www.nbcnews.com/id/27184857/ns/technology_and_science-games/t/ads-obama-campaign-its-game/#.UwQWS0JdVM4

Dewey, C. (2013, Aug. 16). Advertising Turns to $20 billion video game industry. Retrieved Feb. 18, 2014, from Grand Rapids Business Journal: http://www.grbj.com/articles/77584-advertising-turns-to-20-billion-video-game-industry

Fairall, D. (2012, January 4). 30 Years Ago, The First Movie Licensed Video Game Was Made. Retrieved Atari 13, 2014, from Pop Gamer: http://www.pop-gamer.com/2012/01/30-years-ago-the-first-movie-licensed-video-game-was-made/

Tassi, P. (2011, Sept. 14). Analyst says Video Game advertising will double by 2016. Retrieved Feb. 17, 2014, from Forbes.com: http://www.forbes.com/sites/insertcoin/2011/09/14/analyst-says-video-game-advertising-will-double-by-2016/