Branding

One of the more interesting chapters I read in Bogost’s book was #7- Branding.

It starts out using Monopoly as an example, which happens to be another game I’ve always loved. This is followed by a quick segue into Monopoly Here & Now, which involves more money, new places, and new pieces. Most notably, the Motorola phone, Starbucks’ coffee, Toyota Prius, and other familiar markers of today’s world. I’ve played this game for free online, and did buy one that came with the actual board and everything.

Then there was an example from The Sims that Bogost kind of skirted over on page 54, in which McDonald’s had a cute little burger stand in the first game. There was also a downloadable Pepsi vending machine that sold nearly every soda made by the company. I remember when I played the game that many of my Sims were fans of Mountain Dew.

Since then, I hadn’t really seen many in-game ads that actually were meant to be noticed. Sometimes I’d see ones on my Gamecube or my Playstation or something in one of the hockey games, or maybe for in-game products. Meh.

I think it was at last when I played Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Vegas 2 online that I noticed, in the Vegas lights, that I was trying to shoot terrorists hiding behind posters advertising movies I’d just heard about from friends. I did a sort of double take the first time I noticed this. It was like… “Wow. You mean, they can actually do that? Advertise real things in games?” and then I died staring in pure fixation at this poster.

I then read about the in-game Obama campaign ads in Burnout: Paradise and Madden ’09. I may have caught a glimpse of one in the latter, but regardless, I was surprised a bit. I remembered that little snippet of an ad from RSV2, and realized that, hey, this was apparently a thing now.

What I think I’d really like to know is if people are mostly like me, ignoring all the Nike ads in the sports games and insistence on using Fender guitars in Rockband, or if this kind of advertising is actually effective in some way beyond, “Oh hey, that’s cute, they’ve got a poster for The Lego Movie on this billboard. Novelty at its finest.”

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2 thoughts on “Branding”

  1. I also found the chapter on Branding very interesting. I look at a lot of sports on t.v. and I also feel that the advertising that I see doesn’t necessarily affect me unless it is subliminal.
    In the movie “Fight Club”, which I mentioned in my first post, product placement was amazing. Not only was Pepsi placed many times throughout the movie, but so were other companies that Pepsi owns. The same way that Monopoly is placing brands in its new versions, the same way there is no surprise that branding is placed in video games. As far as the placement of Obama’s campaign ads, I too was surprised and in retrospect, remember Madden ’09 containing these ads. As Bogost writes, “Rather than apply Obama branding in the game, this was a case of the game branding Obama.”

  2. I had never thought about Branding in this way until I read this chapter in Bogost’s book. I think it’s very clever to advertise in video games. When you have such a large audience, why not use this market to sell your product? I think with video games, there’s a certain “addiction” that comes along with it. Once you buy 2K13 or Halo, you’re inclined to by 2K14 or Halo 2 because your interested in the changes that have been made or the new adventures that have been created. Knowing that these gamers will come back and buy these games, there is a very good chance that that consumer will also go out and buy that product. As far as politics goes, I think its a bold statement for the video game producers to advertise for one party or another. It’s a very touchy subject like race or religion but I do think that it says the video game company is not afraid to take risks and that says something to the gamers.

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