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By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on December 28, 2003   |   Episode 34 (Show Archive)  

   

We all try to avoid them, but sometimes you just can't escape TV commercials. They are everywhere, and more annoying than ever. But have you noticed the trend of selling product by showcasing video games? No less than three current advertisers are using video games to hawk their goods. But is it working? Do the commercials offer enough that's new to grab the attention of even the most cynical viewer? These were just a few of the thoughts I had while watching them. To shed some light on this recent trend, Defunct Games is proud to present a feature all about video games and advertising, but not video game advertising like we're all used to! See which adverts work, and which ones are just grasping at straws in a feature I like to call How to Get Ahead in Business Thanks to Video Games!


Product 1 - Hummer H2
Game: Asteroids
Description: The thirty-second spot begins with the game Asteroids in action. For the first ten seconds or so the little triangle spaceship is shooting down giant rocks and everything else in its way. But then, just as we get to the middle of the commercial, the white outline of the Hummer H2 is shown coming from the left-hand side of the screen. It chases the triangle spaceship off the screen (much like Ms. Pac Man chased Pac Man in the old school Pack Man cinema) and the commercial ends with the brand and logo.
Effectiveness: Although everybody has played Asteroids, it's not exactly the most current title on the market. Some 30-somethings may get a kick out of seeing a classic game they grew up with, but even that won't be enough to warrant a $55,000 Hummer. On has to assume that people that are willing to buy a Hummer is a person who will not be won over by advertising. And besides, this is hardly the first game to use Asteroids, it would have been nice if they tried something else, like say, Space Invaders or Tron. Yeah, Tron, that's the ticket.

Product 2 - Areva
Game: SimCity 2000
Description: The concept behind Areva is fairly straight forward, it starts with the construction of small buildings, a power plant, and things connected to them. The commercial then connects that piece of tile to a bigger city, something that looks a little too much like SimCity 2000. Eventually the commercial switched to a bigger city at night, with bright lights and plenty of activity from cars and trains. The commercial ends by zooming into an office where you can actually watch the Sims-like people controlling their destiny.
Effectiveness: Some commercials have a great concept, but they never drill it home what they are advertising. So is the case with this spot, which looks cool, but doesn't really advertise anything you'll remember a minute after seeing the commercial. Unlike the other two commercials, this Areva spot only looks like the game in question, and isn't actually using the real graphics. Had it used the SimCity 4 engine, I think it might have been more effective. Regardless of how it looks, the commercial doesn't explain what it is, and isn't memorable enough to stay with you.

Product 3 - Volvo S40
Game: Rallisport Challenge 2
Description: In a lot of ways the Volvo advert is much like every other vehicle commercial on the market ... except, instead of them using footage of a real car, they opted to use some of the scenes from the soon to be released Rallisport Challenge. As the "driver" races through the dirt track, you get shots of him changing gears and punching it around a corner. Eventually the S40 gets out of control and does a flip down a small hill. But don't worry, the bottom of the screen let's you know that these are "animated drivers on an animated course." Funny.
Effectiveness: Of the three commercials, this advert is the most effective for game players and none game players alike. It grabs your attention in a way that very few automobile makers have been able to; it's not funny, nor especially exciting, but it doesn't look like anything else on TV and is flashy enough to keep your attention till the very end. Better yet, it does an excellent job of selling gamers on the upcoming Rallisport Challenge 2 for the Xbox. It's yet to be seen how well the car actually sells due to this ad, but so far it's one of the best examples of cross-marketing I have seen recently. I wouldn't be surprised if more companies decide to take this path in the future.
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