Canadian Vending

Features Equipment Technology
Dispensing Strategies: Alter Egos

Alter Egos


April 30, 2008
By Michelle Brisebois

Topics

Pop quiz (all puns intended). Name various occasions on which you recall seeing an advertisement for Coke.
Chances are your mind just started scanning recently viewed TV and
magazine ads – maybe a billboard or two. However, if you’ve seen the
films Four Brothers, Hitch, King Kong, Madagascar, Mr. and Mrs.
Smith, Sahara, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, or Mission Impossible III –
you’ve seen an ad for Coke.

Pop quiz (all puns intended). Name various occasions on which you recall seeing an advertisement for Coke.
Chances are your mind just started scanning recently viewed TV and magazine ads – maybe a billboard or two. However, if you’ve seen the films Four Brothers, Hitch, King Kong, Madagascar, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Sahara, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, or Mission Impossible III – you’ve seen an ad for Coke.

It’s called product placement and savvy marketers have been using it since Bond revved up his Aston Martin and E.T. munched on Reese’s Pieces. When a brand is woven into a story, it’s a bit of back door advertising. We presumably are relating to the characters and the “soft lob” product endorsement hits us at our sweet spot because we’re not expecting it.

For most of us, the kind of coin needed to get our products embedded into a Hollywood production just isn’t in the coffers. However, there’s a brand new form of product placement on the horizon.

Advertisment

Technological venues such as gaming offer similar opportunities for product placement, but the difference is the mindset of the audience. Watching a movie is a passive exercise – you sit, you watch you absorb. In the online world – you are in control of where you go, what you do – even who you present yourself to be. In cyberspace, it’s all about being the master of your “youniverse.”

This trend, like many current trends, has its roots in a consumer need for control or at least the perception of control. Many new consumer trends are driven by the new consumer, one who creates their own playground, own comfort zone, own reality. This is a very involved, motivated consumer and the marketing opportunities are profound. These consumers have creative control, leverage their own creative assets, assume different personas in cyberspace and take customization to the next level.

If you’ve ever peered over the shoulder of your teenager and seen them navigating an animated person through an animated village, you’ve witnessed someone who’s got an Avatar (online persona). It’s the high-tech version of moving to a new school and re-inventing yourself.

As iMediaConnection put it, “minutes after registration, you can shed, or if you wish, simulate your real life (RL) identity by personalizing an avatar, custom-designing your own hang-out, haven or ‘crib,’ importing your buddy list and IM (instant messaging) new pals. For many visitors, the worlds fulfill the yearning for a much-needed outlet beyond home, work and school—not unlike what Starbuck’s founder Howard Schultz touts as the beloved third space.”

Online games make it easier for all of us to have at least a few moments of glory – of belonging and feeling loved. It’s as we navigate these online “alternative lives” that marketing messages intercept us. It’s not about plastering ads on websites – it’s about dancing with the consumer in their fantasies. Research suggests that it’s a very lucrative dance as well.

Nielsen Interactive Entertainment reports that in-game advertising resulted in a 60 per cent increase in awareness for new products and that animated 3-D ads achieved twice the recall of traditional billboards.

Research also discovered that 450 out of 900 respondents indicated that in-game advertising makes the gaming experience more realistic. Just 21 per cent disagreed. Additionally, 54 per cent agreed that the in-game advertising caught their attention while 17 per cent disagreed.

Nielsen and Activision (a publisher of games) studied 1,350 male gamers aged 13 to 44 segmented into groups exposed to games with ads and without ads. The results indicated that ads relevant to the game were tolerated on the screen longer and resulted in improved brand awareness and positive feelings about the product (source: MediaLife).

You may be thinking “ok, so it’s an effective means of advertising but it’s such a niche target – who wants to market to computer geeks?” The numbers suggest that living an alternate online existence may not be so rare. According to research reported on trendwatching.com; more than 100 million people worldwide log on each month to play interactive computer games (source: NYT, December 2005). In the USA, over 70 per cent of men aged 18 to 34 play video games, (NPD Group). Young men play 12.5 hours of video games a week; while they watch television 9.8 hours, and three-quarters of households with a male member age eight through 34 own a video game system (Nielsen Entertainment). Sixty percent of trendsetters and 33 per cent of mainstream 14-34 year-olds have a social networking page (source: Trend Central, May 2006).

Vending superstar Coke has created “mycoke.com” to allow people to decorate their own space, mix music, interact with brands such as American Idol and FIFA soccer. It starts with creating a “thirst I.D” which may include providing your mobile phone information to “participate in iCoke promotions.” It’s brilliant; a quick text message (they’ve signed up so it’s permission based) keeps the brand conversation going while the consumer is on the run.

Many other prominent vending brands are deeply rooted in the virtual advertising world. Nestle, Frito Lay and Pepperidge Farms are just a few brands that are participating in the Neopets online world. Procter & Gamble UK invited 13,000 Habbo-girls to run its Always Salons in the virtual hotel (using of course, L’Oreal products). Sprite bought exclusive pouring rights to Habbo Hotel’s new elite virtual nightclub and introduced the character “Miles Thirst.”  The website was promoted on MTV with a resultant 75 per cent increase in Habbos’ consumption of Sprite versus consumers who had never seen the campaign.

This brave new (virtual) world is perfectly suited to promoting the vending industry because it’s technology based. Keep on top of which brands are leveraging a virtual marketing strategy and think of ways you can capitalize on this cutting edge venue. Put links to these sites on your website or perhaps references to these sites on the machines themselves. And finally, have some fun. Jump into a virtual world to see what it’s all about – call it market research. It’s never too late to have a happy childhood.o


Print this page

Related



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*