Nivea's first foray into in-game product placement injects its products into the covert world of Sam Fisher, the spy in UbiSoft's "Splinter Cell: Double Agent." The media buy includes product integration, static and dynamic placements, plus out-of-game ads.
The goal for Beiersdorf's skincare brand is to reach the male 18- to 34-year-old market, an audience that's increasingly moving away from traditional media and into video games. "It's a chance to present our brand in a younger, hipper way," said Joseph Venezia, marketing director at Beiersdorf.
The marketing program features products from both Nivea and its partner in shaving, Philips Norelco, in a game space hotel bathroom. In-game billboards were created to work with the game and tease the gamer. Beiersdorf agency RDA International conceived the creative to integrate with the game's themes. Messages like "There are many faces of evil. Don't let yours be one of them," and "The 'Good Guy' almost never has a beard," play to both the game's plot and Nivea's overall message.
"We didn't want it to be ads and product placements, the goal was to be integrated into the game," said Venezia.
Dynamic, billboard-style placements are delivered through Massive's in-game ad network, partly as a means to measure how many players might be seeing the more expensive hard-coded product integrations. Some of those product tie-ins are at higher game levels, and Nivea wants to know how many players reach those levels, said Alana Benvenuto, account director for RDA International, Nivea's creative agency.
The in-game media buy is the focal point of a branding campaign that extends across online and offline channels. Nivea created a microsite, thegoodside.com to which all ads in the game and the Internet link. It offers information on Nivea products; Philips Norelco products using Nivea creams; and a Nivea-sponsored "Splinter Cell" sweepstakes where the winner will take a trip to Montreal to meet the creators of the game. Nivea also bought ads UbiSoft's regular newsletter.
Offline tie-ins include inserts in each retail box of the game which hypes the sweepstakes. The company also bought a print ad in the game's strategy guide published by Prima. The creative features a bottle of after shave made to look like a hand grenade with the message "Balms away." It takes a cue from the tools used within the game.
The sixth title in Ubisoft's series, "Splinter Cell: Double Agent" isn't the first to develop an integrated ad campaign that becomes part of the story. In "Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow," Sam Fisher used a Sony Ericsson P900 smartphone to receive updates throughout the game.
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