Below the Line Advergames

Brian Bluff co-founded Site-Seeker with his brother Eddie in 2003. He received his degree in micro-electronic engineering from RIT and later served in the United States Navy.

The cliche of the day for Advergames that use education in their structure and content is Below the Line (BTL) advergames. That’s right! Edutainment and branding has come together.

Kellogg’s game Tutankhamun and Zookeeper are archetypes for this hybrid. Tutankhamun, as you can imagine, takes gamers on an adventure through the tomb of Tutankhamun, searching for artifacts in a, James Bond like, first-person view. To progress from stage to stage, the player must find trinkets and tools used by ancient Egyptians(artifacts I studied in college level Art History).

Kellogg’s uses a different structure for Zookeeper, providing videos of animals and quizzes about the content. Also, the advergame websites goes beyond the usual, play my game and remember my logo, site. It seems to create a genuine educational experience, not just a marketing ploy. There are links to search for local zoos and a contest awarding participants an animal adoption at a participating zoo (who doesn’t want to take a lion home), receiving free tickets and a certificate.

Branding

Personally, I like how Kellogg’s branding is integrated. Logos aren’t plastered on every rock and flag in sight (Cadbury’s Cream Eggs’ gaming efforts are the worst example I’ve found), they’re sparsely placed in both games. Of course logos and other branding is necessary, but don’t kill us guys. Zookeeper incorporates logos on the corner of pages, on printable-certificates awarded and on loading-windows when pages are coming up. They’ve also worked popular Kellogg’s-color-schemes into the game. Clever! The reds and yellows used in advertising are integrated with the words and layouts. The word Zookeeper is yellow and flags on the main page are red. Other examples exist, but these two are my favorite.

When to use BTL Advergames

One instance when using this format can be useful is if children are involved. There’s a growing mass of criticisms for advertising towards these young influencers and consumers. And, when using games to reach them, the criticisms are the worse. Even Steve Easterbrook, CEO of Mcdonald’s UK, is noted for raising an eyebrow to the negative effects of gaming.

Also, if you want to educate the audience about a complicated product, this format is straight. Edutainment can provoke an interest in complicated features, by giving relevant rewards. I envision this working for companies like EMS and Northface. When I was looking for hiking boots for my trip to the Andie mountains, the different features and benefits could have easily drove me insane, if I wasn’t already familiar with them. And, good luck getting the audience to recall a dozen features from an interstitial or banner ad. A BTW, ideally, can hold attentions long enough for retention of several product facets.

Above the Line (ATL) and Through the Line (TTL) games are two other formats. But I wanted to focus on BTL for now. Advergames are intriguing to me, so I’ll certainly find myself writing future posts about these other categories.