Google's YouTube took a hands-on role crafting a custom interactive game for allergy medicine Zyrtec that is running on the brand's YouTube channel. "Park Unleashed" is a branded online scavenger hunt in which players can win Samsung Galaxy tablets and share their progress on social media. The YouTube team worked with Zyrtec's ad agency JWT, New York, to adapt the video platform to handle a full-on game that is based on skill instead of chance. It is the first time such a scavenger hunt has appeared on YouTube.
"A game based on skill drives deeper consumer engagement than a typical ad sweepstakes based on chance," said Tim Nolan, JWT creative director. Zyrtec, owned by Johnson & Johnson, opted to place the game on YouTube rather than a microsite to take advantage of the site's high traffic and sharing capabilities. "We basically treated it as a non-linear video that people can interact with. On this platform it reaches people already interested in video," Nolan says.
JWT has also worked with Zyrtec to develop a branded mobile app that provides allergy sufferers with alerts about pollen counts.
In the branded game, Zyrtec gets its marketing message across with logos and the inclusion of brand info nuggets with each milestone in the game. Some of these brand facts can help as clues to earn prizes.
The game launched on Sept. 5 and within three weeks had attracted 1.5 million views. People are spending an average of 6 minutes per visit with the brand, says a JWT rep. Queen Latifah will be added to the game as a coach starting Sept. 29, to give the second half of the campaign a boost in traffic.
Anyone can play the game, but to win a tablet and Amazon gift cards, players must register. JWT reports 40 percent of the players end up registering. Players can also post game-related "badges" on Facebook.
The primary target is 35 to 40-year-old women with families, said Nolan. Rather than hard-core gamers, they like casual, repetitive online games that are easy to win. J3, the UM media group dedicated to Johnson & Johnson, used a digital-only effort to promote the game to that demographic. Influential mommy bloggers and bargain-hunter bloggers were given a chance to interview Queen Latifah for their blogs in exchange for writing about the game. The agency also ran a page takeover on Yahoo mail, pre-roll ads on YouTube and display ads around the Web.
The target audience is also heavy users of social media, but pharma marketers are generally wary of running brand sites on Facebook and Twitter because of regulations about what content can appear there. However, branded games and entertainment like Parks Unleashed can be easily shared and help get the product name out on social sites, without regulatory issues.
But why is the Zyrtec game in a virtual park with a storyline about dogs burying computer tablets among the greenery? Simple: Allergy sufferers know the most common sources of symptoms are grass, bushes, trees, and, you guessed it, dogs.
Correction: An earlier version stated influential bloggers were paid to write about the game, based on information provided by JWT. In truth, bloggers were not directly compensated but were given access to Queen Latifah in exchange for digital ink.
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Joan Voight is a Contributing Editor to ClickZ. Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, she has covered online and offline media, marketing and advertising since the mid-1990s for several business publications. She spent nine years at Adweek magazine, where she was San Francisco bureau chief, national senior writer and contributing reporter.
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