New media for old brands

Shannon Forbes - Digifianz Marketing Analyst

Written by Shannon Forbes - Digifianz Marketing Analyst

 On 7/11/19 1:00 PM


Customers expect the same ‘ol same ‘ol from traditional brands - billboard ads and TV commercials.  Don’t resign yourself to these out-of-touch methods - give your brand a face-lift with a game!

Incorporating an advergame, or advertising game, is a unique means of revolutionizing your brand.  A video game shows that you understand your audience and know how to connect with them.

Traditional brands stand to receive some of the greatest benefit from advergames.  Games allow you to reach consumers who may have viewed your company as out-of-touch or unapproachable.  Take advantage of the unexpectedness of a game to delight and engage your customers.  

Games don’t have to make your brand look silly or immature - games can actually communicate serious messages.  Take a look at how these three classic American companies utilized games to revamp their image.

Race the brand

Ford Motor Company is the oldest American car company.  Starting in the year 2000, they began a modern campaign - a series of video games featuring - what else? - speeding around a racetrack in both modern and classic models.  The game was originally made for PC, but by 2001 they had already released a version for Playstation.  The series now includes seven titles, with games for PlayStation 2 and Xbox, as well. 

The original game included 12 different Ford models, from both the U.S. and Europe lines, and 9 different tracks to master.  In 2005, Ford used the game series as a medium to promote the 40th anniversary of its famous muscle car: the Mustang.  The special release, Ford Mustang: The Legend Lives, featured 34 of the classics.  Xbox Magazine Staff rated the game a 7 overall, due to its classic appeal and entertaining gameplay.  Its budget price of $14.99 didn’t hurt either. 


These video games helped renew the Ford brand name, bringing the classic American automaker into the 21st century.  Advergames aren’t just the territory of car companies though, food and even health insurance brands got in on the action.

Football and fried chicken 

Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) capitalized on the modern appeal of games, and even combined them with the latest social media craze - Instagram!  The old-timey fast food establishment, featuring the traditional Colonel as the mascot, has more of a quintessential American feel than anything - but they weren’t one to be left behind the times.

We all know the importance of social media in keeping current and meeting customers where they are.  KFC took this concept to the next level and actually created a game out of their feed (several feeds, actually).

Keeping in mind the importance of timing, KFC released Colonel Sanders’ Kentucky Fried Football Challenge in January 2017, just in time for college championships and NFL postseason


The hilarious and creative animations took this Insta-game to a new level.  Players could choose different play-actions like “Crispy Run” and “Potato Pass” to try to score a touchdown, seamlessly weaving brand associations (crispy = chicken) into the fun.  

A KFC spokesperson affirmed that “we love to do innovative, unexpected things on platforms that our fans enjoy, like Instagram. Success to us is using platforms (in this case Instagram) in unique ways that engage our fans where they are.”

The fried chicken experts didn’t stop with Instagram, in August 2018 they created a gaming account on Twitter, @kfcgaming, with the ingenious slogan “Finger Clickin’ Good.”  The entertaining account resounded with gaming fans - it has over 61K followers to date!

Healthcare innovators

As the most senior company on our list, Cigna Health Insurance (founded in 1792!), could teach millennial businesses a thing or two about staying relevant.  Cigna came up with a truly innovative game to engage young cancer patients, by allowing them to virtually fight the disease they’re battling in real life.  In Re-Mission 2: Nanobot’s Revenge, players use “weapons” like chemotherapy, antibiotics and immune cells to take down cancer.

The game educates and empowers kids with cancer to better understand the disease and treatment, and the importance of keeping up with their treatment regimen.


Rather than sticking to pamphlets, Cigna chose a truly modern take on health care education.  The game developers, HopeLab, conducted multiple research studies on the effectiveness of the first and second versions of the game.  They used brain-imaging technology to identify how interactive gameplay, versus passive viewing of information, motivates positive health behavior.  

The results from the first study were pretty astounding.  Not only did game-players demonstrate improvements in quality of life, knowledge about cancer and belief in their ability to beat the disease. They also maintained 41 percent higher blood levels of chemotherapy and showed a 16 percent higher usage rate of antibiotics.  Cigna has now released the game as a free app for the App Store and Google Play, so that every kid with cancer around the world can have access to the game.  

Re-mission isn’t a typical advergame in the sense that it doesn’t feature a product, rather it is part of a generation of advergames that provides quality education inside its entertaining gameplay -  a creative means of reaching and connecting with young people.  

Rather than resigning themselves to traditional advertisements, these three companies demonstrate the power of advergames to innovate branding and image.  Don’t get stuck in the past - upgrade your marketing strategy with a game!