Riding on the coattails of Pac-Man and other 1980s' arcade games, Kibbles 'n Bits dog food debuted a digital campaign that revolves around a retro 8-bit game. Consumers can play the promotional game in banner ads as well as via a Facebook app, and are encouraged to share the game and their scores with friends.
Orchestrated by Draftfcb, the game-centric campaign targets
40-45-year-old women who own dogs, said Julie Scelzo, Draftfcb group creative director. "This group is very active on Farmville and on other social games, and they grew up playing with those early video games," she said.
Indeed, research by game developer PopCap indicates that the average player of online social games is a 43-year-old woman, according to a 2010 survey.
Kibbles 'n Bits main Facebook page has about 195,000 likes. Its theme is the joy of owning and playing with your dog. "We opted on adding a game app as a playful way to attract people to the stories, pet photos and other branded material on the Facebook site," said Jacob Pepper, agency art director.
When users sign-up for the Facebook game app, they get additional features beyond the gameplay on the banner ad. For instance a real-time scorecard shows the total number of gamers and their average time to complete the game. Players can compare their own performance to the average.
The campaign launched Nov.1 and the banner ads will run until the end of December, per the agency. Within the first day, 124 games were completed and the average time spent per game was a little over two minutes.
The gaming banners are running on a variety of lifestyle and pet sites, such as Shape, The New York Times, Bravo, People Magazine Pets, Woman's Day and DogTime.
One key advantage of using a vintage and nostalgic game is to indirectly remind consumers that Kibbles 'n Bits products, owned by Del Monte Foods, have been around for about 30 years. "It reinforces the perception that the products are familiar and well-established," said Zac Maricondia, Draftfcb copywriter.
Arcade-style 8-bit games have proven to be surprisingly popular in this era of high-tech video graphics. (Originally 8-bit referred to the data capability of the processors used in video game consoles. Now it refers to the style of graphics and music produced by those early processors.)
For example, when Google ran a quickie Pac-Man game in its logo two years ago, people spent about 4.8 million hours playing it within a 1-day period, according to RescueTime, a software analytics firm
More recently, the animated Disney movie "Wreck-It Ralph," released Nov. 2, is built around icons from early 8-bit games such as Donkey Kong, Super Mario Bros. and yes, Pac-Man.
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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.