Thursday, March 2, 2006

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.


"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."

  • 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 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 forum


  1. I have been following this pretty closely, and for the most part I feel that a lot of game publishers have done a great job with the advertising that they've placed. The King in EA's Fight Night is absurd, though. "If it's in the game, it's in the game", or at least that's what they say, right? Have you ever seen the King walk a fighter into the ring? Point made.

  2. I haven't played the game myself so it's hard to tell how it all worked out. But from the screenshots, it looks interesting.

  3. Seriously, very bad ad with tons of negative comments...
    No diversity of ads unlike real life boxing !