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.

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Comments on “Forget In-Game Ads, Burger King Makes The Whole Game An Ad”

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w00t says:

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…..

Disgruntled says:

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.


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.

CEGII says:


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.

Comboman says:

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).

dorups says:

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

Lerch (user link) says:

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.

Aid Man – Atari Version

Kool Aid Man – Intellivision Version

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

Tack Furlo says:

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.

Jo Mamma says:

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?

eeyore says:

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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