Thought Leadership

Are marketers underestimating the creative potential of gaming?

Growing numbers of gamers and increased opportunities should see marketers thinking creatively about how to engage with the community

Georgie Moreton

Assistant Editor, BITE

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The gaming industry is now worth over £7bn and with millions of people engaging in gaming every single day, the opportunities the medium holds is difficult to ignore. Yet, nonetheless when it comes to gaming stereotypes abound. 

The ‘typical gamer’ of course no longer exists, nor is helpful to marketers. If your target demographic is ‘gamer’ you may as well switch it out for ‘human being’ such is the diversity of players across the globe. 

From hyper-casual mobile gaming to family favourites like the Animal Crossing phenomena or the cultural force fields of Fortnite or Roblox, the audience is broad and the options are endless. With gamers engaged and engrossed in whatever gaming world, they are eager to explore and interact more than they would with a traditional advertising slot should marketers use the medium well.

There are already great examples of gaming used well. Wendy’s Twitch play along live-streams, Burger King sponsoring Stevenage FC to get their branding into FIFA, countless numbers of Animal Crossing Islands to explore such as IKEA’s and the Kiyan Prince Foundation’s creation of Kyan in-game proving that gaming can be an invaluable tool to raise awareness and reach an audience that is maybe less present elsewhere. 

With the breadth of the opportunity so large and endless ways to engage, are marketers underestimating the creative potential of gaming?

Dan Lambden

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Creative Director

Red Consultancy

Dear Marketers, imagine the scene – millions of people are chatting, playing, learning, developing, creating, producing, spending cash and their spare time together in a giant building. But your brand is nowhere to be seen. You’d rightly be on the phone to your agencies immediately, demanding that your brand gets into this space.

Well, this space is ‘gaming’. But many brands are still not awake to this community, basing decisions on outdated perceptions of gamers.

Almost half of 25 -44 year olds play video games. Earlier this year, our client PlayStation revealed that 41% of PlayStation 5 and PS4 owners are women. I could go on but you know how to use Google. 

Instead, I’ll say that the UK gaming industry is worth more than video and music combined. So next time you sign off another gig sponsorship where you’ll appear on a lanyard which will be thrown in the bin afterwards; or another film premiere step & repeat board along with 17 other logos; or another famous-for-five-minutes reality TV star’s social media post, who will be flogging dodgy diet pills in Dubai tomorrow – think how you could probably reach that exact same audience, digitally, virtually, collaboratively and more authentically, through gaming. You just need the right agency partner (like us) to help you press play.

Rosh Singh

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Managing Director

UNIT9

This time last year, gaming wasn’t considered a mainstream marketing activity. There were many misconceptions about the category - but with 2.7 billion gamers now worldwide, and a growing cohort of female and older gamers, it can no longer be seen as just a part of fringe culture. This expanding demographic unlocks huge opportunities for brands to connect with target audiences on unexplored platforms. 

Brands have certainly started paying proper attention this year. We’ve seen Spotify sponsor Worlds, the biggest esports event in the calendar; Burberry dip their toes in the world of NFT gaming with their Blanko’s Block Party drop; Netflix release its own mobile games library, and of course, luxury fashion brands such as Balenciaga and Gucci launch huge PR-generating collaborations with metaverse platforms Fortnite and Roblox. 

Whether we like it or not, every conversation that happens around gaming right now is tied back to this wider societal conversation around the metaverse. We’re not yet at the stage where we’ve entered the metaverse in its truest sense - far from it. But gaming forms a solid foundation - it’s guaranteed to be a core pillar for this future metaverse. If brands haven’t got onboard yet, 2022 needs to be the year they do so in order to position themselves for the inevitable immersive future. 

Anna Rosenthal

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BX lead

BBH

Gaming has come a long way since the 90s; a third of the population is now gaming. With a captive audience of over 3.2 billion gamers globally, gaming should not be viewed by brands as just another media format; it should be seen as an opportunity to engage with consumers on a personal level by creating meaningful experiences and interactions.

Gaming platforms have become highly social environments that encourage conversation and collaboration. Culture is being reimagined in the virtual world; live in-game events like Travis Scott’s Astronomical concert tour was seen by 45.8million people who tuned in across 5 live events. People are spending serious money on in-game purchases, with virtual merchandise like Gucci handbags reselling for more than real life items. The likes of Nike, Adidas, BMW and KFC have all invested in hiring in-house e-Sports experts.

With the rise of 5G and the explosion of the metaverse, gaming is presenting brands with new opportunities to go beyond the physical and reimagine a new way to show up with people. It’s not a matter of if brands should show up, it’s a matter of how brands should show up.

April Hogan

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Associate Director

Here Be Dragons

Marketers trying to tap into the gaming market is nothing new, and it makes sense given that the gaming industry is worth more than film and music combined, and the sheer number of people that identify as gamers.  

Over the past few years, advertisers have really tapped into this. Whether that’s through partnerships like the Bumble and Gen.G’s all-female eSports Fortnite team, L’Oreal’s product placements to target female gamers or in-game digital billboards.  

For me what’s a bit underestimated though are the campaigns that spill out of gaming and get non-gamers talking. Gaming is a massive part of pop culture now, and if you can create a campaign that travels from a game into earned media, it means your reach will be even bigger. The Fornite and Balenciaga collab is a perfect example of this, it wasn’t just the techies and gamers talking, but Vogue, GQ and Hypebeast covering it too.

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