Forget In-Game Ads, Burger King Makes The Whole Game An Ad

from the blurring-the-lines dept

There's been a lot of interest lately from advertisers who want to put their ads inside video games. Done right, these ads can be pretty effective. Done poorly, and they cheapen the game and make the advertiser's brand look silly. But Burger King has taken things a step further, deciding that sticking its ads inside games -- as it's done before -- isn't quite enough, and instead just making its own branded video games. It's selling three games for the Xbox 360 that feature its characters like The King and the Subservient Chicken for $5 each in its stores, hoping to hook the hamburger-eating game players. This isn't the first time companies have made these "advergames", but the real marketing value of what Burger King is doing isn't clear. Perhaps the games's availability will drive some Xbox 360 owners into BK locations to buy the game, but that doesn't seem particularly likely. And if they simply wanted to get the games out to as many 360 users as possible, they could have given them away through the Xbox Live Marketplace. For what it's worth, a BK exec defends the move, saying they worked with the Xbox "because, like Burger King, Xbox is a challenger brand that wants to change the status quo and push the limits of what can be accomplished in the marketplace. Both brands take risks and strive to be the best in their respective fields. We also have very similar core target audiences or heavy users." Now there's a message that's sure to get through to video-game players, and is certain to sell more hamburgers. Obviously the company's going down the advertising-as-entertainment route, but it's hard to see just how having people play The King at checkers or something will have a significant impact on Burger King's sales.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 11th, 2006 @ 12:46pm

    If they make real games that rival the major offerings: bloody, violent and cutting-edge then there might be a niche for BK in my collection. But if it's a cutesy, half-*ssed kiddie game, I'm not just going to not buy the game, I'm going to Wendy's!

     

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  2.  
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    Gabriel Jordan, Oct 11th, 2006 @ 12:48pm

    Not a first...

    ... am I the only one that remembers the Genesis/SNES era game starring the spot from 7Up? That entire game was just one big at for 7up... but it was actually a decent game, too...

     

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  3.  
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    Gabriel Jordan, Oct 11th, 2006 @ 12:49pm

    part II

     

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  4.  
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    John, Oct 11th, 2006 @ 1:16pm

    MacDonalds

    MacDonaldland on the NES is the earliest of this type of marketing game that I can remember.

     

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  5.  
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    PhysicsGuy, Oct 11th, 2006 @ 1:17pm

    they need to forget video games, chances are the game alone won't drive people to burger king. what they need to do is what subway did in Happy Gilmour, find a funny movie and make a deal so that it's essentially an hour and a half commercial.

     

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  6.  
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    Disgruntled, Oct 11th, 2006 @ 1:25pm

    Losing Respect for this place

    . Perhaps the games's availability will drive some Xbox 360 owners into BK locations to buy the game, but that doesn't seem particularly likely.
    . Yeah, I'm sure the goal of marketing and advertising isn't to get the consumer into your location to spend. Duh... The tactics may have changed, but the goal has always remained the same.
    And if they simply wanted to get the games out to as many 360 users as possible, they could have given them away through the Xbox Live Marketplace.
    . See above. I don't think the goal of the advertising campaign is to get the game in as many hands as possible, but rather burgers in people's mouths. Advertising 101.

     

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  7.  
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    CEGII, Oct 11th, 2006 @ 1:31pm

    why

    this has all the makings of one of those ideas where a few execs get fired and sodomized when it blows up in their faces. this just seems like it's going too far. if dvr & tivo have taught us anything, advertisements are despised almost as much as the bush admin at this point. of course there will be some schmuck that does pick up bk: burger kombat...er flip those burgers... or whatever craptastic name they slap on this trainwreck, but this can only leave both companies involved (bk & whatever dev co they dupe into producing) with a bad taste in their mouths. on a side note, who remembers the mcdonalds game for nintendo? that's what i thought of when i read this? if you've managed to block it out, heres a refresher course.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M.C._Kids

     

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  8.  
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    DittoBox, Oct 11th, 2006 @ 1:32pm

    Re: part II

    I remember that game! On genesis/megadrive it was actually pretty solid.

     

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  9.  
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    Comboman, Oct 11th, 2006 @ 1:33pm

    Consoles/Fast Food Analogy

    "because, like Burger King, Xbox is a challenger brand"

    Extending the analogy further: Nintendo is like McDonald's (bland and kid-friendly), Sony Playstation is like Wendy's (struggling to maintain market share), and Sega Dreamcast is like Arby's (dead).

    BTW, the oldest fast-food video game I remember is Domino's 'Avoid the Noid' for C64 and DOS (in beautiful CGA graphics). http://www.mobygames.com/game/avoid-the-noid

     

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  10.  
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    dorups, Oct 11th, 2006 @ 1:35pm

    the goal of advertising, is yes to sell your product. however they base their marketing on probability. if you distribute x ads and make y "new" sales, then your gain is something like y per x.

    now, if you increase x, y should increase as well. and if it only costs a more to increase x and you gain b more from y, then you are doing good. i.e. spend a to get b. and as long as b is greater than a, the company is happy

     

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  11.  
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    itsabat, Oct 11th, 2006 @ 1:40pm

    Re: MacDonalds

    I remember a game for the Atari 2600 that was based on the Koolaid Man. You had to send in tons of empty Koolaid envelopes and they sent you the game. I may still even have the game.

     

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  12.  
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    Faz, Oct 11th, 2006 @ 1:42pm

    Hmm

    if it is a kiddie game and parent sget it for kids, they want the xbox and they get into games and they can always be like BK got me into games so i love Bk now...

     

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  13.  
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    Gabriel Tane (profile), Oct 11th, 2006 @ 1:54pm

    I have one question...

    in this game... do you get to kill the king? If so, I'm all over that game.

    Sorry, that creepy f***er needs to die.

     

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  14.  
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    Joel Coehoorn, Oct 11th, 2006 @ 2:05pm

    Surely I'm not the only one who noticed the phrase "heavy users"?

     

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  15.  
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    Paul, Oct 11th, 2006 @ 2:08pm

    new happy meal toy

    Kids don't want crappy plastic toys anymore, they want crappy videogames that come on plastic discs.
    Thus the HappyMeal Toy 2.0 is born.

     

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  16.  
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    Posterlogo, Oct 11th, 2006 @ 2:12pm

    Avoid the Noid...

    ....was a great game waaay back in the day, despite the free advertising for dominos. They can be done properly and be quite fun.

     

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  17.  
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    Lerch, Oct 11th, 2006 @ 2:21pm

    Kool-Aid Man

    itsabat: you're totally right, and that's the first thing I thought of when I read this article. I had the Intellivision version of that game. It was AWFUL, but my sisters and I played it anyway, if for no other reason than to get some reward for the fact that to get the game we had to drink 100 gallons of Kool Aid. You had to save 200 Kool-Aid points to get it as I recall, and each add-your-own-sugar-Kool-Aid packet was worth 1 point. At least you can just buy the Burger King games.

    Kool Aid Man - Atari Version

    Kool Aid Man - Intellivision Version

     

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  18.  
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    christopher carfi, Oct 11th, 2006 @ 2:36pm

    burger king marketing -

    some notes from a chat with russ klein (BK's CMO) earlier this year that may be relevant... http://www.socialcustomer.com/2006/06/social_currency.html

     

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  19.  
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    ITGuy, Oct 11th, 2006 @ 2:49pm

    Re: Not a first...

    What about Avoid the Noid for NES? dominos lame attempt at a game back in the 80's

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 11th, 2006 @ 3:09pm

    While this promotion may not bring many loyal McDonald's fans over to the Burger King camp it could create more loyal Burger King customers. This type of marketing campaign is targeted at customers who frequent mutliple fast food chains. After playing BK games and associating BK with fun they may become loyal BK customers, prefering their restaurant over the other chains. I don't know if the cost of producing the games and DVD's will bring them a good ROI, but the campaign will make some customers more likely to choose BK over their competitors.

     

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  21.  
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    Oliver, Oct 11th, 2006 @ 3:23pm

    WOW

    There was subway in happy gillmore? PC Mods

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 11th, 2006 @ 3:29pm

    MR WIMPY - hamburger game

    MR WIMPY for the 48K Spectrum is an unusual product in more ways than one. Commissioned by Wimpy International, it is billed as the first British computer game to feature a promotional character, complete with company, logo and advertising jingle.

    http://www.mobygames.com/game/zx-spectrum/mr-wimpy-the-hamburger-game

     

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  23.  
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    Awesome Mr Ethan, Oct 11th, 2006 @ 3:44pm

    Who remembers...

    Does anyone remember ChexQuest? Maybe ten years ago?

    Played it at somebody's house, went home and asked my mom for Chex.

    Then again, it was probably a lot better than a "Let's be Burger-King-Buddies" game.

     

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  24.  
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    Tack Furlo, Oct 11th, 2006 @ 4:22pm

    Five bucks is a decent profit margin...

    Perhaps it has eluded most of you people, but burger king has a menu where their most expensive single product sells for $6.95 I think. That same product probably costs them $2 in materials and labor (I don't eat much at BK so it's hard for me to give exact figures, but you get the idea). We're talking about a business where a $3 profit per unit sold is considered to be pretty good.

    Now let's assume that, like most CDs, the game discs themselves cost them 25 cents. Even with some really nice DVD case and an insert, the game can't possibly cost BK more than 2 bucks, and they're charging 5. Anyone see a similarity between the profit margin on this game and the profit margin on a whoppper emerging?

    Plus, this is even better for them. If a person walks into BK and has 10 bucks to spend, however they're only hungry enough to eat one burger, they're not going to buy two 5 dollar burgers. On the other hand, if they can buy one 5 dollar burger and a 5 dollar xbox game, that's 5 bucks more than burger king would've made if the game wasn't there to buy.

    In other words, even if the game totally sucks, from BK's point of view it's not just good PR. It's like selling 20% more whoppers. Besides that, I don't know about you, but in a time when a normal console game costs upwards of 50 bucks, a 5 dollar game is usually a good buy even if it stinks, because most games that cost 50 stink too. It's the $70+ games that don't stink, usually. If I'm gonna drop money on a crappy game, I'd be happier to drop less of it.

    Same 15 minutes of gameplay, 10% of the price, and burger king makes an extra sale. Everyone wins.

     

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  25.  
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    w00t, Oct 11th, 2006 @ 4:47pm

    Re: Happy Gilmore

    Haha.... sadly true.... Happy Gilmore was one of the funniest movies about funnily dressed men chasing a little ball around with a stick ever made! LOL Hopefully things won't escalate to this level... wouldn't be long before the spyware jack@sses would devise new ways to load crap on your pooter while the movie played.....

     

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  26.  
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    Jo Mamma, Oct 11th, 2006 @ 5:18pm

    What a load

    These types of games always suck... hard.

    I don't know why they even bother -- I can't imagine the few dozen kids out there who are affluent enough to own an Xbox, yet poor enough to not be able to afford a decent game are going to justify the amount they spent on this.

    I mean, I'm all for trying new things, but as far as this idea is concerned, what's the point?

     

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  27.  
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    Jo Mamma, Oct 11th, 2006 @ 5:24pm

    Re: Five bucks is a decent profit margin...

    To Tack Furlo... you make some really good points!

    I've changed my mind (and in record time)... these guys are geniuses.

    Wow, I knew there was a reason I read techdirt comments :-)

     

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  28.  
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    tomcat, Oct 11th, 2006 @ 6:13pm

    Re: Heavy Users

    Yeah, that was the thing that jumped out at me as well...I almost fell out of my chair when I read that the xbox and Burger king share a target audience of "heavy users"

    priceless.

     

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  29.  
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    Penelope Trunk, Oct 11th, 2006 @ 9:57pm

    The best BK ad yet

    In a discussion of Burger King advertising, we have to note that the company got a great little ad from Steve and Chad in their YouTube/Google annoucement video.

     

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  30.  
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    eeyore, Oct 12th, 2006 @ 4:29am

    so sucking what?

    the game may suck, but just about every movie-based game sucks anyway and they probably cost a hell of a lot more to develop and market. For that matter, just about ever movie based on a video game has sucked too. BK has been desperate to cut into McD's market share for as long as I can remember and for most of the past forty years had one either utterly forgettable or staggeringly awful marketing campaign after another. The King thing is the first at least decent ad campaign they've ever had. Who remembers the "Herb" campaign from the mid-80s?

     

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  31.  
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    ChexQuest Lover, Oct 12th, 2006 @ 6:12am

    Re: Who remembers...

    I remember ChexQuest (and CQII only available by download). It was built on the doom engine, and if you dropped the Doom data file into the CQ folder, you'd play doom with the CQ textures and bad guys! I think I still have that CD somewhere.

     

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  32.  
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    Elvis - The Real King, Oct 12th, 2006 @ 6:14am

    Wow!!

    Finally a cool game that will make me go out and buy an X-Box.

     

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  33.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 12th, 2006 @ 9:06am

    Re: Re: Not a first...

    Actually Its Yo! Noid, and it was pretty fun too.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yo%21_Noid

     

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  34.  
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    C, Oct 12th, 2006 @ 1:37pm

    Re: MacDonalds

     

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  35.  
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    C, Oct 12th, 2006 @ 1:38pm

    Re: Who remembers...

    YES! I remember that game. It was some kind of shareware game that game with Rice Chex and Corn Chex. Hahaha

     

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  36.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 13th, 2006 @ 7:40am

    Re: Not a first...

    hahaha, I do and it was sweet. In fact one of my friends and I stayed up till 4 playing it one night. The fun was abruptly ended by a eye bending train hoping level. We didn’t beat the game and the cartridge was subjected to a healthy toss.

    Good game, but it never compelled me to grab a 7up

     

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