Case Study: Burger King's Advergames - Part 2

This is part 2 of 3 of an abstract from a new book  Changing the Game: How Video Games Are Transforming the Future of Business by David Edery and Ethan Mollick (here's part 1).

Burger King also made the decision to sell the games at $3.99, an extremely low price for disc-based (as opposed to downloadable) Xbox games but, as it turned out, a potentially much better price than “free.” By choosing to charge even a small sum, Burger King seems to have sent a message to consumers that its games had real value, unlike other advergames they might have played and been disappointed by in the past. Burger King further supported the games with a strong marketing campaign that included advertisements shown during Saturday Night Live and during NFL games. All this sent a very clear message to consumers: “There is something of value waiting for you at Burger King.”

Furthermore, Burger King wisely decided to spread its bets by appealing to as broad an audience as possible. The company attracted “gift givers” and more casual gamers by pricing the games cheaply. It attracted enthusiasts by taking advantage of Microsoft’s phenomenally successfully “achievement” system, which awards gamers points when they play games, and by building multiplayer functionality into two of the three games. And lastly, by creating three very different games, Burger King made sure it had something to offer any customer, no matter how narrow their interest in game genres might be.

The games were also so successful because Microsoft and Burger King had motivated and empowered project champions involved in the process.

Within Microsoft, that champion was Chris Di Cesare, formerly Director of Marketing for Xbox. In Di Cesare’s words, “The scale of the agencies and people involved in this promotion was immense. We’re talking PR firms, ad agencies, online firms, game developer and publisher, and promotion agencies on both sides. It easily could have devolved into fiefdoms, but everyone checked their egos at the door and focused on Burger King’s very clear idea of what they wanted to accomplish. Everyone fell in line because of Burger King’s passion for this project. However, the Burger King guys were total novices when it came to game development, so it became my job to translate their desires to the great many groups within Microsoft that needed to work together for this to happen. In other words, Burger King had an internal evangelist in me.”

Advertising Lab is pleased to offer highlights from a book that just came out, Changing the Game: How Video Games Are Transforming the Future of Business, co-authored (together with Ethan Mollick) by an old friend and former MIT colleague David Edery, who now works as Worldwide Games Portfolio Planner for Xbox Live Arcade.

You will find a review in Economist, and Cliff Notes in Inc. Here, with authors' permission, I'm publishing their findings and insights about Burger King's set of blockbuster advergames that are at least in part credited for the 41% jump in company's quarterly profits

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