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Power Member - Level 10
The other day I found myself on the Entertainment Software Association's (ESA) website, flipping through some of their many reports on the state of the video game industry when I happened across something seemingly out of place. Under a section called "Games: Improving What Matters" I found a report and an article titled "In-Game Advertising". Finding this to be something of an oddity with a section about "what matters", I went ahead and read the article and was astounded by the claims and information presented.
The article itself makes a valid case for the strength and potential for advertising in video games. This drew my thoughts to the marketing departments of the companies I have worked for in the past. In my experience, marketing executives make some...odd decisions. To put it best, I have seen people throw darts at boards to garner ideas and come up with better ideas than these executives whose sole job is put a company's name out on the market and make it look good. Then, I got to thinking, what is going to happen when marketing becomes as popular as this report predicts? What poor decisions will be made to get this kind of exposure? My mind returned with some very harrowing thoughts...
McDonalds and Kinect: Fitness Evolved
Back in 2004, documentary film maker Morgan Spurlock opened our eyes to the health detriment that is fast food. In this documentary, he went on a McDonald's diet, eating nothing but their food for a month. During that time, he and health professionals showed why even the healthiest food at the restaurant is about as bad as it gets. Imagine stepping into your Kinect's sensor to get in your daily workout only to find your trainer to be Ronald McDonald, Grimmace, Mayor McCheese, or the Humburglar...
Coldwater Creek and Ghost Recon: Future Soldier
For those who are not married, have a girlfriend or pay attention to what their moms buy, Coldwater Creek is a clothing store that focuses on traditional women's apparel. With their target market being women over the age of 30, what better way than to market using one of the most anticipated games of the year, Ghost Recon: Future Soldier? Nothing says "WAR!" better than a ribbon yarn cardigan sweater!
Fox News and Mass Effect
Before I go too far with this, I must point out that I have a strong distaste for all news media as it is nothing more than constructed lies to make news entertainment,. As far as I am concerned, most of these media outlets should be required by law to place quotation marks around the word "news" anytime they use it, even in their names.
That being said, back when the first entry in the Mass Effect series was released, Fox "News" ran a whole interview story about the "graphic" inter-species sex scene that was non-existent. To top it off, the reporters had no clue what they were talking about as they had never even seen a clip of the incident, not realizing that most shows on their own network are far worse. With this kind of oblivious attitude around their offices, I wouldn't be surprised to see them put up an advertisement in a Mass Effect game, not remembering the incidents of the past and Fox "News" is Commander Shepard's favorite "news" source on the Citadel.
Hillary Clinton for President and Grand Theft Auto
The battle of government deciding what is ok for the masses and the argument for liberty is an old one and one of the most popular examples of this was in 2005 when then-Senator Hillary Clinton picked a fight with Grand Theft Auto and advocates for the elimination of censorship with her comments about the infamous "hot coffee" mini-game. This fight was picked up and put right back down with legislation passed and then overturned in California. But, in the end, I believe all politicians are bigger hypocrites than the average human and could definitely see an overzealous campaign advertising manager try and pass off a campaign ad inside of a Grand Theft Auto title.
Kotex and Skyrim
If someone asked me to name off the manliest game I could think of, I would immediately think "Skyrim". Norse history, from which the game received much of its inspiration, was a brutal and testosterone filled one. It is also one I can claim as my personal heritage, so of course I want it to be manly. But, what if a marketing executive at the feminine product company, Kotex, got wind of the potential for marketing in video games and was able to slip an ad somewhere in there? Could you imagine?
Granted, what I have stated above is somewhat unlikely, but with the budgets and amounts of money companies are willing to shell out for advertising and the masses of people that could be exposed to constant advertisement, I wouldn't be surprised if more of these types of things started to crop up. Think about it, Gatorade's sales went up 24% in direct connection to a video game advertising campaign, imagine the amounts of money businesses would throw around to get those kinds of increases. And, with developers and producers closing shop left and right, what choice would they have but to take the money? Think about it...
*Big props to the person who helped with the pictures who has wished to remain nameless. You know who you are and have my gratitude!*