Picture this: A silent, deadly and very ruthless killer. He is dressed in an expensive Armani suit, armed with poison, silenced weapons and a good knife - he even drives a Mercedes. He is on a mission, and in order to succeed it doesn't really matter how many he kills nor if they are civilians who just happens to wear a coat he likes.
Now picture that this is the kind of lifestyle a Danish company would like you to have. To some it may sound exciting, to others scary - or to most probably both.
What I am talking about is Hitman, the very successful action game from EIDOS and IO Interactive. The Hitman character is the perfect anti-hero. He kills the worst scum the world has ever seen, but does not care about killing innocent in order to succeed.
Hitman is not just a game, it also a very strong brand. Many hours have gone into ensuring that Hitman feels like Hitman. And every step of the way, every location, and every scenario, even how his tie should look is detailed in the Hitman Brand Bible.
We are trying to turn Hitman into a lifestyle - not just a game.
All this was covered in the Danish newspaper "Politiken", when they interviewed Ric Williams, Head of marketing for EIDOS. They discussed their efforts to turn Hitman into a superbrand and also turning Hitman into a movie like Thumb Raider.
Using games as brand enhancements has proven, more than once, as a very effective way to bond with your target group. The advantage is obvious, instead only allowing only people to look at your brand, you can experience it - and that is why it works.
And, it works both ways. Porsche teamed up with Electronic Arts a few years ago to create NeedForSpeed Porsche Unleashed. It was huge success for both companies. Porsche could suddenly have a very large group of people experience what is like to drive a Porsche. They also allowed people into the Porsche world, introducing them to their history, corporate identity and technology.
Another example is the many games are based on Tom Clancy's excellent books. In terms you can now enjoy the restful experience of reading his books, see it by watching the movie (Lately: The Sums of All Fears) and then experience it by playing it yourself.
Note: A study from August 2003 finds that just as many adults are playing games as teenagers. In 2000 the average age of the gamer was 28.
Creating interactive experiences is going to be even more important in the future. When creating a new successful product and brand, the future consumers will demand to have a full experience. That does not have to be trough games; there are many ways to create experience. Mobiles, city-events, amusements and Internet theme sites are all excellent tools.
In the future a successful brand will be much more about feelings and experience than how it looks.
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