Your industry isn't too boring for a branded game

Shannon Forbes - Digifianz Marketing Analyst

Written by Shannon Forbes - Digifianz Marketing Analyst

 On 6/27/19 1:47 PM



Do you ever struggle to market your company to customers?  Let’s face it, some industries are pretty boring. Even the blandest of industries can benefit from an advertising game (also known as an advergame).  

In fact, the more boring your industry, the more you stand to benefit from an advergame.  Games add fun and entertainment to otherwise uninteresting topics.

Waterslides and banks?

Take Barclaycard Waterslide Extreme, created by Barclays Bank.  Financial services is a fairly dull subject, yet Barclays Bank was able to create an absorbing game to hook customers and promote their contactless payment card technology. 

They started with an entertaining commercial of an office worker commuting home via waterslide (we can’t be the only ones who are jealous!) and using contactless payment technology to pay for a few things along the way. 

Barclays Bank then built on the success of their traditional TV ad by creating an advergame to allow customers to continue the fun and experience the waterslide themselves, this time with jewels to collect and obstacles to avoid!  


To this day, Barclaycard Waterslide Extreme is likely the most downloaded branded game in history!  It has reached 55,000,000 downloads since its launch in 2009 and was the #1 app globally in the iTunes store for 2 weeks.  Also impressive is the longevity of the game’s influence. As of 2016, it still had over 85,000 DAUs (daily active users), with each person playing an average of 2+ minutes per session.  That’s an incredible amount of brand interaction!

Another well-known example of combining other marketing mediums with games was Chipotle’s advergame The Scarecrow, created in conjunction with its award-winning short film of the same name. 

The Sims need insurance 

Home insurance may not seem to be a likely candidate for a video game, yet American Family Insurance cleverly devised a Sims-inspired game that engaged consumers and even sparked them to get actual insurance of their own.

iAMFAM, which was launched in 2010 and available to play on Facebook, consisted of creating a home and a family, much like The Sims, “while managing unexpected surprises along the way.”  Though filing insurance claims may not be your idea of a good time, the game provided a fun way to engage consumers on the topic.  


The advergame was a highly successful marketing campaign  - more than 586,000 people have played iAMFAM to date and the average game play is 14 minutes, 30 seconds.  That’s a tremendous amount of time spent engaging with a branded product.  Not only that, click-thru rates ranged from 5.5-percent to 15-percent.  “The game is actually driving consumers to ask for quotes from this insurance company,” said the spokeswoman for WildTangent (who created the game, in collaboration with Mindshare Entertainment).  

The game allowed players to experience homeownership without real-world implications.  Yet the experiences of risk and loss in the game inspired consumers to invest in real-life coverage.  Games are a highly-effective educational method because they allow people to experience a topic first-hand.  In this case: how it feels to deal with a disaster - and the financial support and peace of mind provided by insurance.  The fact that players reflected on their virtual experience and decided to request quotes demonstrates how effectively games influence consumer behavior.

Fight cavities!

Healthy teeth and gums may seem like a stretch for a game concept, but one brand saw a unique marketing opportunity.  One of the earliest advergames ever released was Johnson & Johnson's Tooth Protectors, debuting in 1983 for Atari 2600 consoles.  The game wasn’t available for purchase, instead the only way to get in on the plaque-fighting action was by mailing in proof-of-purchase stamps from Johnson & Johnson.  

The gameplay was similar to the popular game, Kaboom!, with the player trying to stop falling items from reaching the bottom of the screen - in this case with floss held above the player-character’s head. 


By taking care of virtual molars, Johnson & Johnson inspired players to prioritize their own dental care (and, of course, buy the latest toothbrush).  The game instructions ended with advertisements for "The Real Tooth Protectors": Johnson & Johnson-branded toothbrushes, dental floss and dental rinse. 

This game took a truly boring field, dental hygiene, and made it playable and fun!  Tooth Protectors is now considered rare and valuable.

Any business can benefit from games as an ingredient in their communication mix.  Boring industries especially have the potential to revolutionize their marketing game (pun intended)!  The key is to choose the right advergame for your brand.  At Plinq, we specialize in creating games that advertise in a creative and playful way.  To read more about how we wield the power of advergames, check out our free eBook below!