Game format emerges as a means to extend USA Network's product placement deals online.
To extend hit show "Burn Notice," USA Network worked with New York-based agency Glow Interactive to build an interactive game. Called "Burn Notice: Black Ops," the game has created a more immersive marketing opportunity for its sponsor, the Hyundai Genesis Coupe.
The goal was to provide a realistic complement to the Burn Notice TV experience. To accomplish that, Glow worked with the show's writers and actors on a video-intensive game complete with stunts, car chases, and explosions.
“The game tends to attract hard-core Burn Notice fans who are maybe more casual gamers,” said Glow Interactive co-founder and CEO Peter Levin. “But one thing we make sure of is that the game video has quality similar to the production of the TV show.”
Glow provides a one-stop shop for the game/marketing programs, including in-house video, scripting, and talent casting. For USA, they also worked to drive interest in the show's new season, which began November 11, by pre-registering players in the week before the episode aired.
“The actual game experience began the minute the show aired and we gave six new missions, one for every week of the new Burn Notice season,” Levin said. “The game will remain live after the current season with things like a sweepstakes for a 2011 Hyundai Genesis.”
While the primary goal of Burn Notice: Black Ops is to help a popular show stand out in the crowded cable universe, USA Network VP of Digital Jesse Redniss also suggested the game format is emerging as a vehicle for extending product placement deals online. “The Hyundai Genesis was our partner for last season and the fact they re-upped for this season shows they're seeing the impact from the brand exposure provided by this type of execution."
This is the fifth time USA Network has worked with Glow on games related to its programming. Previous programs have attracted up to 200,000 regular users who spend 15 to 20 minutes interacting with the game each visit. This time around, the online experience includes the opportunity to virtually drive a Hyundai Genesis Coupe while solving Burn Notice missions. “The players are able to utilize features like the blue-tooth technology that comes with the car when they contact headquarters,” said Glow Creative Director Jesse McLean.
These more video-intensive experiences can drive up the costs of a campaign that, in this case, also includes messaging on Facebook and Twitter as well cross-promotional spots during the actual TV broadcasts encouraging viewers to continue their Burn Notice experience online.
Redniss also noted brands who participate in these types of programs do need to move beyond traditional online metrics such as new unique users when evaluating their effectiveness.
“We show them how this can drive co-registered leads for the car as people in the game who experience the virtual interior of the car opt in for additional information,” he added. “Once we're done slicing and dicing all the data points, we feel the sponsors end up getting a lot more than two for one though these joint sponsorships - it's more like a 10 to one deal with these experiences.”
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David Ward is a veteran freelance journalist based in San Diego, who currently focuses on online marketing, digital entertainment and the growth on new consumer technologies such as 3D in the home.
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