Scratchpad: Gorillaz in Habbo Hotel

Aleks Krotoski, "Gorillaz Checking In to Habbo Hotel", Guardian Blog, Aug.24, 2005 "Give it up for Damon Albarn and his cartoon Gorillaz gang; they’re embracing the cyberspace vibe by appearing in the US version of the teeny-friendly, mega virtual world hit Habbo Hotel today to give residents both a personal appearance and a live performance."

Scratchpad: IGA Interview with Gamecloud

John "JCal" Callaham, "IGA Worldwide Interview", March 13, 2006 Quotes by IGA's CEO Justin Townsend:
  • However, with the introduction of the IGA WW proprietary ad serving network, Radial, we enable advertisers to target millions of engaged consumers across a wide range of platforms and game genres whilst they play.
  • As we have stated above, ad brands need to follow consumers – as an example, the best selling game of 2004, NFL Madden, generated some 400 million eyeball hours, whilst the best selling TV program of 2004, The Sopranos, generated some 160 million eyeball hours. More recently, Halo 2 is reported to have clocked over 600m hours of online play via Xbox Live.
  • The process of integrating the SDK is minimal, taking roughly 15 man hours. [...] Contrary to popular belief, its not preferable to have hundreds of billboards pasted over every surface! Not only does that become intrusive to the game, its also less effective for the advertiser. Effectively what we are doing is replicating where you would expect to see adverts in real life and replicating that, with some optimization for the way different games are played and different environments are negotiated.
  • We already have a fully operational network serving over 600,000 unique gamers a month.
  • We are already working on some major technological innovations, such as in snowboarding game Stoked Rider where we are dynamically interchanging geometric branded objects [...]

Scratchpad: Advertising in Virtual Worlds

Joyce Schwarz, "Bold New Opportunities in Virtual Worlds." iMedia Connection, March 10, 2006. Quotes: The greatest opportunity for brand expression may just be in the 'solo-branded' Virtual Worlds like Coke Studios, Wells Fargo's "Stagecoach Island," Disney's Virtual Magic Kingdom and Motorola's Mokiworld. But other options like co-branding or develop promotions or sponsorships within other brands' virtual worlds -- like Wal-Mart did in Coke Studios -- are feasible. What's the big payoff for the brands? One innovator Erik Hauser, founder of San Francisco-based Swivel Media, provides a powerful answer -- engagement. Swivel Media recommends its clients allocate six to seven figures to create one of these experiences. Digital Deadwood is a great example of how branded virtual worlds enhance tourism promotion.

Scratchpad: Ben Sherman in Test Drive Unlimited

image: IGN. A screenshot from the upcoming Test Drive Unlimited for Xbox 360. Eric Pfanner, "On Advertising: Getting in the Game." International Herald Tribune, March 6, 2006: "In "Test Drive Unlimited," a new video game from Atari, players will get to choose their virtual wheels from a selection that includes Lamborghini, Ferrari and Mercedes. And, unusually for a genre in which car crashes generally count for more than fashion splashes, gamers will also be able to select their on-screen drivers' wardrobes." "The ability to customize the racers' attire comes courtesy of Ben Sherman, a clothing brand popular among soccer fans in Britain and urban hipsters in America. Realizing that many young men spend more time with their Xboxes, Playstations or Nintendos than their televisions, Ben Sherman joined a growing number of marketers who see video games as a promising new frontier in advertising." "For Ben Sherman and Atari, which is owned by Infogrames Entertainment of France, the potential audience seemed to intersect so well that it prompted a surreal twist. The partnership will extend beyond the in-game advertising and into a real-world link between the two brands, with Ben Sherman stores installing "pods" where customers will be able to take a spin at the controls of "Test Drive Unlimited." "You can go into the stores in the game, and into the game in the stores," Bartlett said. 'It's all pretty weird.'" "Analysts estimate that spending on ads in video games could reach $1 billion a year by the end of the decade, up from around $300 million now and little more than $100 million two years ago." "Gerhard Florin, general manager for international publishing at Electronic Arts, the largest video game publisher, estimates that advertising will eventually account for 5 percent to 10 percent of video game revenue." "Because the game will allow users to play online, Ben Sherman will be able to update those billboards with changing seasonal displays on the PC version."

Scratchpad: Newsweek on In-Game Ads

Kasia Gruszkowska, "Police! Freeze! Do You Accept Visa?" Newsweek, Feb 27, 2006. "The firm's [Ubisoft's] soon-to-be-released CSI: Three Dimensions of Murder has cops solving a crime by making use of Visa's fraud-protection services. Music also lends itself to video-game ads. Ubisoft has placed one advertisement for a band in Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory, and plans to do more. [...] Last summer, Funcom's game Anarchy Online featured audio ads triggered by the player's avatar. Walking past a billboard ad for a movie, for instance, triggers an audio promotion for the film. Similar ads will soon appear in Sony Online Entertainment games Matrix and PlanetSide." The CSI game is scheduled for release on March 14, 2006. Image: Gamespot. A Windows XP display background in CSI: Three Dimensions of Murder Image: Gamespot. A GMC vehicle in CSI: Three Dimensions of Murder Image: Ubisoft. Fingerprints on a Nokia phone in CSI: Three Dimensions of Murder.

Case: Brand Integration in True Crime: NYC

The following refers to the console version of Activition's True Crime: New York City released in fall 2005. Times Square: Most of the billboards in this version of Times Square are fake, but check out the noodle cup at the top center and the beer billboard under it. For comparison, here's a recent pic of the same building in the real world (see a better one that someone else took). I can't find any reference of Orange (the mobile service provider) advertising in the game, but Luxoflux in the tagline "Orange is Luxoflux's company" is the developer behind the title. Notice the cellphone icon in the top left corner branded with Motorola's "M"... ... and how Motorola's the only real brand advertised on the billboards. Brands: Tor Thorsen, "First Look: True Crime 2", Gamespot.com, May 2005: "Activision is kicking off a contest on Wednesday, May 18 [2005]. Called "True Crime Guess the City and Win Marcus' Ride," the contest, as you might have guessed, challenges entrants to guess what city the new game will take place in. The grand prize is a brand-new Chrysler 300, "Brilliant Black Crystal Pearl" in color. The car is tricked out with 22-inch Asanti Wheels, Billet front grille, Lamborghini-style doors, SAVV 10.2-inch headrest monitors, Alpine AM/FM/DVD/CD player with LCD monitor, MA Audio front and rear component speakers, four-channel amp, subwoofer amp, and a 12-inch subwoofer, and Xbox video game system (not to be played while driving). Ten first-prize winners will receive a Motorola mobile phone and 10 second-prize winners will receive Puma gear." Chrysler: The in-game Chrysler, the main character's ride (image: Next Level Gaming) The prize car for the "Guess the City" competition (image: Next Level Gaming) Motorola: "Puma's In-game Product Placement", Brand Noise, Feb 16, 2006 "Another placement that comes off without seeming to heavy-handed, is a quick "Hello Moto" reference in one of the lines of dialogue. It is uttered ny a character using their mobile phone. An example of culturally embedding a brand first so it can be referenced believably in other media. Not a bad placement." Puma: César A. Berardini, "PUMA, Activision Partner for True Crime: New York City", Team Xbox, Oct. 28, 2005: "PUMA announced today the next installation of their partnership with Activision, which builds on the success of the best-selling videogame True Crime: Streets of L.A. [...] To commemorate our second partnership with Activision, we created a unique sneaker mission within the True Crime New York City game and also made a special edition shoe. In the True Crime game, the player must locate the special edition sneakers and return them to sneaker stores. In real life players can buy the exact shoe from those same New York City stores. [...] As a separate quest from the main game, players must find all of the special edition True Crime RS-100 sneakers scattered throughout the city and return them to select, real New York City retailers featured in the game." image: Uncrate "Puma True Crime RS-100 Sneakers", Jan.25, 2006 "The [limited edition] Puma True Crime RS-100 sneakers ($100) feature a map of lower Manhattan, a game logo on the insole, and the embroidered letters T and C on the heels. Each pair comes with a coupon to get a free copy of True Crime: New York City, but expect to make a trek to get them if you don't live in New York — the shoes are only sold at The Puma Store: Soho, Classic Kicks, Flight Club and Clientele." Also see truecrime.puma.com:

News: MTV2 Hosts Fashion Show in Second Life

MTV2's "Coltrane hosts Second Life's first ever fashion show." Watch a Flash video from the show. Creator: Glitchy Gumshoe, an MTV staffer. Stage by Spellbound. Coltrane's avatar by Lilith Pendragon. Update (March 10, 2006):
  • The original call for talent was posted on SL Forums in Dec. 23, 2005 and the video apparently was released on March 9, 2006 (thanks, Csven).
  • According to the article in New World Notes, the video was shot on Supernova, a private island separate from the main grid.

Scratchpad: Advertising With Avatars

"Mokeys and Burgers Create Online Persona", AdAge, March 8, 2006: "In an age of consumer-generated media, avatars also help keep consumers engaged with a brand." Many more examples and comments at reBang. Earlier on AdLab: Personal Audio Avatar Branding Avatars

Scratchpad: "We Interrupt This Fantasy..."

Tom Loftus, "We interrupt this fantasy...", MSNBC, Aug.25 2004. Highlights (verbatim):
  • Product placement in the stealth title "Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Pandora Tomorrow" takes a more active role: Success is contingent on agent Sam Fisher mastering an Sony Ericsson P900 smart phone
  • Who could ever imagine video games pushing real-world fashion? More importantly, by partnering with a brand associated with urban cool, "True Crime" earned a street credibility it wouldn't have received if Kang was outfitted in say, Old Navy.
  • Electronic Arts, for example, brought in $7 million in revenue through in-game advertising last year, a 50 percent increase from the year before.
  • Chad Stoller is director of communications solutions at the Arnell Group, an ad agency that made waves last year representing DaimlerChrysler’s in-game advertising debut. "We're in the third generation of advertising," he said. "First it was we need to have a brand in the game to make it realistic. Then it was: 'You have a drink to sell? We'll throw in a soda machine.' Now advertisers are asking, ‘How can we integrate our product into the game?’"
  • An increasingly popular role for some products, according to Stoller, is sponsored levels. "It doesn’t interfere with the flow of the game," said Stoller. "The publisher is saying, ‘OK, you have finished the game, now try this free level.’"
  • "Need for Speed Underground 2" by Electronic Arts made headlines for becoming the first video game to involve a bidding war between potential advertisers. A sponsored package by Chrysler included an unlockable race track laden with Chrysler advertising and an additional game storyline that involved a Dodge Viper.
  • Certain games in the Electronic Arts catalog, such as "The Lord of the Rings" and the "Harry Potter" series are completely off limits to advertising.
  • If there's anyone aware of the "sanctity" of uninterrupted game play, it's the studios that make them.

Scratchpad: CNBC Interview with Activision, Nielsen

"Ads in games can be persuasive, study shows", Dec.5, 2005, msnbc.msn.com, accompanied by a video interview (IE6 only) with Robert A. Kotick, CEO of Activision and a VP of Nielsen.

Scratchpad: Alternative Reality Branding

Joyce Schwarz, "Alternate Reality Gaming 101", iMedia Connection, March 03, 2006. Highlights (verbatim): - Major brands such as Microsoft, Hasbro, Jet Blue, American Express, Sharp, Audi, Song Airlines and Stella Artois beer are staking out space in the ARG arena. - You don't want to tell the story; you want the players to tell it to each other. Many examples of different types of ARG's.

Scratchpad: Dos and Don'ts

Fran Kennish, "In-Game Advertising Dos and Don'ts", iMedia Connection, March 3, 2006 Highlights (verbatim): Do's: - A brand's presence should enhance the gaming engagement - Brand and commercial content must be relevant to the game - Brands should feel like a natural part of the game - Customization can strengthen gamers' engagement with a brand - In-game communication must be measurable Don'ts: - Assuming video games will work with any brand - Interrupting, delaying or inappropriately altering game-play with in-game communication - Imposing on gamers' attention with communication that doesn't add to the game - Assuming real-world creative will work within a video game environment - Considering "advergames" as an inexpensive way of reaching a gaming audience. People: Fran Kennish (fran.kennish at mecglobal.com) is senior partner, director of strategic planning at MEC MediaLab, part of Mediaedge:cia. Questions: - How to integrate brands into worlds that are not originally "brand-friendly", such as fantasy environments? - If an ad or a branded item fits too seamlessly into the game, will it be overlooked and it's desired effect minimized?

Machinima Piece Inspired by Advertising

This piece of Machinima art uploaded to Dailymotion was apparently inspired by Fallon London's ad for Sony Bravia. -- via Advergirl, Advertising for Peanuts)

EA To Translate Depeche Mode Song Into Sims Language

Csven points at Next Generation that says that the new "Open for Business" expansion pack for EA's Sims 2 will include a Depeche Mode's "Suffer Well" song translated into Simlish. Update (March 9, 2006): The video is now on YourTube (link1, link2, via Adverlab). One YourTube caption says the song was re-sung by Dave Gahan and is featured in the new expansion pack.

Video Demo of Wells Fargo's Stagecoach Island on Active Worlds

image: screenshot of the Swivel Media's video shows a Wells Fargo ATM Swivel Media released a video preview (file hosted at Swivel Media, .wmv, ~9Mb) of the new version of Wells Fargo's Stagecoach Island that has recently been moved to ActiveWorlds. Read more: - "Revisiting Stagecoach Island" at Second Life Herald - Original post on Second Life forums Earlier: Wells Fargo Opens Advertising Floodgates Into Virtual Life x-posted on Adverlab

Uploaded Text: Introduction - 2.The New World

This post is a placeholder for comments on Introduction - 2.The New World. "You are standing at the door that is about to swing open to reveal sprawling cities, endless highways, virgin forests and other undeveloped property, so utterly devoid of anything branded that it is almost hard on the eyes, and the choice of what to make of it is now yours."

Uploaded Text: Introduction - 1.The War

This post is a placeholder for comments on Introduction: 1.The War. "The war is on, and we are losing it. And this is one war we don’t even need to be fighting. We love our audience, but it is only our fault if no one can tell. Instead of being a gentle and loyal lover, a prince charming always ready to help, never a nuisance, we collectively act like a paranoid stalker, obsessively collecting and fetishizing every little thing our audience leaves behind. We call our audience at nights and breathe heavily into the phone, or read a sloppily written script."

Uploaded Text: Thesis Proposal

This post is a placeholder for comments on thesis proposal. "This paper is designed to address the latter problem by compiling, arranging and analyzing the existing body of academic and industry knowledge to distill a set of guidelines for advertising in computer games. The main question it seeks to answer is how to design and place in-game advertising in a way that would recognize and respect the limitations of the medium while taking advantage of the unique opportunities it offers."

Scratchpad: Washington Post on In-Game Advertising

image: Washington Post / Electronic Arts Mike Musgrove, "Advertisers Are Getting Into the Game", Washington Post, Thursday, March 2, 2006; Page D01. Highlights: "The '80s-era Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles once promoted a pizza chain in an arcade game." "Sometimes, game fans embrace marketing if it's entertainingly weird. In EA's new boxing game, Fight Night Round 3, the Burger King mascot -- the retro one with the oversized head and the burgundy robes -- becomes part of a player's in-game entourage if players complete a side-mission challenge. On game Web sites, some fans have posted comments that the feature makes them more likely to pick up the game." "Julie Shumaker, director of in-game advertising at EA, said she wasn't worried that players would react negatively to the Burger King placement in Fight Night. "We knew it was so over-the-top that the consumer would get it," she said. "It worked because we didn't pretend that it wasn't an ad." EA will put some form of advertising or product placement in about a third of its games this year, she said."

"In the upcoming Burnout Revenge, players will be able to drive and crash a delivery truck for the Carl's Jr. burger chain. But most advertisers are too squeamish to see their logos in a fiery crash. Need for Speed players can crash through a generic doughnut shop, but they can't crash through a Burger King." "Massive can broadcast ads based on where players are located." "Massive chief executive Mitch Davis said he got the idea for the company while playing a Grand Theft Auto title years ago. He saw a store that was a parody of the Gap and he thought it would be cooler if the game's Vice City had real companies lining the streets instead of the game's satiric, Mad Magazine alternatives." People:
  • Monika Madrid, director of strategic sales and partnerships at Ubisoft.
  • Michael Dowling, general manager of Nielsen Interactive Entertainment.
  • Dave Anderson, senior director of business management at Activision.
Illustrations: Fight Night Round 3 Source: GameSpot Update [April 14, 2006]: More reactions to ad placements on Fight Night Round 3: "I find deporable is how they put the freakin' car right next to the ringside and the laser lights in the background are projecting Dodge logos on the audience. I don't think I've seen either of these at any sports venues." -- GC_Chi on GameCritics.com forum In Fight Night Rd. 3 (EA) you can "hire" the Burger King as your fighter's cornerman (he gives your stat ratings a heart boost, making it easier to get up from knockdowns). And every time I put an opponent on the canvas, the announcer tells me that this particular knockdown is "brought to you by Dodge." -- GC_Scott on Gamecritics.com forum

Scratchpad: Social Networking Applications for Virtual Worlds

Two blog posts in one day about virtual worlds being ripe for the social networking applications: Csven's on Linked-In avatars and Wonderland's on MySpace-like MyMMOG. The wish list so far:
  • A LinkedIn group for avatars or have "Second Life" as a choice of country.
  • SMS (text messaging) to avatar inboxes
  • In-world browser (EVE seems to have one, SL is working on theirs)
  • Inter-world instant messaging
  • Virtual world to real world instant messaging (Pearbook is working on it)
  • One from me: a Craigslist section for virtual worlds.

News: World of Warcraft Hits Six Million Subscribers

"World of Warcraft's European customer base is currently at more than 1 million players, with the worldwide total now at more than 6 million players." -- press release, Feb. 28, 2006

Second Life: Celebrity Avatars

The recent in-game U2 fan concert and the discussion on the SL forums prompted me to look for other celebrity-based avatars, and it turns there's quite a supply and a growing range of available designs. IP issues aside, building and making available avatars based on a media property seems like an intriguing way to encourage fan involvement and ultimately to promote the real-world media product and the associated merchandise. The avatars could also be scripted to deliver automated in-game performances in 3D, a more interesting way to promote, say, a movie than running trailers on the in-game TVs. A virtual Michael Jordan could walk door to door peddling virtual Nike shoes (a hypothetical scenario, of course). The big question, of course, is whether and how to control the use of the avatars in what is a very flexible and often risque environment. What happens if a player wearing the Pippi Longstocking or Hermione Granger avatar decides to pursue a career of an escort or an exotic dancer? (See a story about Mattel suing an artist behind Barbie erotica.) UPDATE: Csven asks more questions on his blog. I found three different stores devoted nearly exclusively to skins, body parts and costumes designed after real and fictional celebrities, although my search wasn't exhaustive. There are also a few places that sell celeb avatars as part of an unrelated line-up, such as the shop that sold me the Stewie Griffin's likeness for 50$L (~$0.18) but that also carried other fan parafernalia (the MIT shirt is my first stab at creating clothes in SL). Some of these businesses offered custom designs. Many avatars also come equipped with a set of sounds and appropriate movie quotes. Not all avatars bear close resemblance to their real-world counterparts. You can choose to be the glamorous but civilian version of Johnny Depp... ... or a pirate one. For 300-800$L (~$1-3) each, you can buy famous stand-alone personalities... ... or entire casts from movies... ... or even cartoons. If you don't want to be a Harry Potter for the rest of your virtual life, you can rent the outfit for a period of time at a fraction of the cost.

News: Study Shows Long-Term Interest in In-Game Ads

Nich Maragos, "Study Shows In-Game Advertising Long-Term Bet", Gamasutra.com, Feb. 27, 2006 "[MarketingSherpa's] January survey of marketers showed that only 10% of respondents planned to spend on product placements within video games during the next twelve months, the lowest response compared to other new forms of advertising such as ads on RSS feeds (40%), blog networks (30%), and sponsoring podcasts (14%). However, when asked which advertising schemes the marketers planned on investing in more than a year out, in-game advertising gained the biggest response, with 36% of respondents saying they intend to do placement within the games."