If a brand has "farm" in its name, it's difficult to ignore the possibility of a FarmVille integration. And when a company actually owns a branded zeppelin, it would be a shame not to include a virtual version of that flying machine in one of the most popular social games around. Starting today, The Farmers Insurance Group of Companies is doing just that.
The provider of auto, home, and life insurance will offer players of Zynga's FarmVille game access to a Farmers-branded airship. The blimp will hover over players' crops and work with the game to prevent withering – an actual result of crop neglect in the game's universe.
"FarmVille was a natural: Farmers, FarmVille - get it?" said Marc Zeitlin, VP ebusiness for Farmers.
The goal is to attach Farmers to the idea of protection in a fun, hip way, said Zeitlin. "We're helping people in FarmVille protect their virtual crops with virtual insurance," he said.
The free zeppelin feature will be available to players for 10 days from October 18 through October 27.
"The airship lends itself to becoming a piece in the game," said Zeitlin. The firm first used the zeppelin as part of a PGA tournament sponsorship, and decided to stick with it.
Overall, Zeitlin aims to help establish Farmers - a company established more than 80 years ago - as a cool with-it brand, in part through doing innovative things in digital media. "The company's sort of been sleepy" when it comes to online marketing, said Zeitlin.
Making a real-world connection, of course, is key for many companies conducting virtual marketing campaigns. For Farmers, that came naturally. The company is running a Facebook contest simultaneously with the integration with the popular Facebook game app. Until November 15, people can enter to win a ride on the Farmers airship through the company's Facebook page.
It's not a direct tie-in with the FarmVille effort, said Zeitlin, "but obviously we're doing both at the same time for a reason.... We're integrating reality with the social world and connecting the two."
Farmers is also currently running video-enabled expandable banners featuring a series of humorous commercials.
"At the end of the day, we want to sell more insurance and retain more customers," said Zeitlin. "We want to communicate with our communities in a more fun and engaging way."
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Kate Kaye was Managing Editor at ClickZ News until October 2012. As a daily reporter and editor for the original news source, she covered beats including digital political campaigns and government regulation of the online ad industry. Kate is the author of Campaign '08: A Turning Point for Digital Media, the only book focused on the paid digital media efforts of the 2008 presidential campaigns. Kate created ClickZ's Politics & Advocacy section, and is the primary contributor to the one-of-a-kind section. She began reporting on the interactive ad industry in 1999 and has spoken at several events and in interviews for television, radio, print, and digital media outlets. You can follow Kate on Twitter at @LowbrowKate.
December 12, 2013
1:00pm ET / 10:00am PT