Reckitt Benckiser's idea of fun is working at Reckitt Benckiser

By Elena Malykhina on Wed Jul 14 2010

PoweRBrands

Ever wonder what it would be like to work as a marketing executive at a large company (if you're not one already)? Thanks to social media, and a new game from packaged-goods maker Reckitt Benckiser, you don't have to wait to land an actual job to find out. A new game, dubbed poweRBrands, is now live on Facebook. It lets you (virtually) join the firm as a marketing executive, and move up the corporate ladder by completing various tasks. The ultimate reward? Becoming president of Reckitt. According to the company, the game is part of an initiative to "make learning about our industry and marketing both relevant and fun." PoweRBrands is aimed at 18- to 30-year-olds, or those who may be early in their careers and looking to learn how Reckitt's marketing division operates. Come on, marketing must be as fun as farming, right? This is yet another example of a company using social-media games to raise brand awareness. See more examples in our special issue this week on digital gaming.

Crunchy Cheetos and Puffy Cheetos fight to death in Web game

Posted on Wed Jun 30 2010

Cheetos

"Everyone appreciates a good food fight. So does Cheetos," writes our snack contact at PepsiCo-owned Frito-Lay. (Hell yes!) The opponents in a new online Battle of the Cheetos game from the cheese-curl brand are Crunchy Cheetos and Puffy Cheetos. Choose one or the other, and let's hope your warrior is tough enough "to survive and not turn to crumbs," writes the Frito-Lay rep. You can play on your own or against friends who happen to be online (hey, this is the digital/social age). To make your army stronger, simply collect more "Cheetle" (that's brand-speak for Cheeto crumbs). The game is supported online by a range of partner sites, including Break.com, Digg and Boing Boing. We just tried the game. Team Puffy. Argh, Chester, we let you down!

—Posted by Elaine Wong

Play a game of Scrabble, enjoy a major fantastical extravaganza

Posted on Wed Jan 6 2010

This ad from Y&R Irvine makes us want to play a game of Scrabble. Like, right now. While board-game ads usually take place in the ho-hum living room, this one plunks the viewer right in the middle of the action. The game board itself morphs into a maze of streets, and each player—mom, dad and son—brings out his or her best vocabulary cards to win the match. (There's a genie, a giant knight and an alien driving a spaceship, for instance.) In a voice reminiscent of a genie or magical creature, the voiceover at the end says, "Everyone has them. Words. Want to come out and play? Scrabble. What words will you bring to the table?" Yeah, we're fully energized to play a match. Evil twin AdFreak, we challenge you!

—Posted by Elaine Wong

You've Elfed and Scooged yourself. Now, Black Dynamite Yo'Self

Posted on Tue Oct 6 2009

Bdys

For those who never got tired of Elfing themselves (who did?), there's a new viral time waster on the scene that you might want to check out. Black Dynamite Yo'Self will do double duty, promoting the indie flick Black Dynamite, a pitch-perfect ode to blaxploitation films from the '70s, and making you look like a straight-up pimp. Sure, it could have more accoutrements, but the beauty of it and all similar applications (SimpsonizeMe, Become an M&M, ScroogeYourself, be on a Wheaties box) is that they're simple and addictive. I was just hoping for a white-girl 'fro and some Cleopatra makeup. But I'll settle for the prodigious facial hair, aviator shades and kung-fu headband. In fact, the funkified theme music alone was enough to keep me around for a while. The R-rated movie stars Michael Jai White, who also co-wrote the screenplay, as a badass crime fighter who speaks of himself in the third person, wears "$100 suits" and always has time for the ladies. A favorite on the festival circuit, it opens Oct. 16 in art houses across the country. Righteous!

—Posted by T.L. Stanley

Philly agency organizes big hunt for tiny turtles at U. of Maryland

Posted on Mon Oct 5 2009

Turtle

What better way to boost school spirit than to have students search for the university's mascot? Or rather, 569 miniature ceramic versions of the mascot? That's what the University of Maryland did when it tapped Philadelphia ad agency Red Tettemer to create its latest campaign. Playing off the college's tagline, "Fear the turtle," the shop developed an indoor, outdoor and alternate reality game that had students hunting for the hidden turtles all over campus. The goal was to "find and fear the turtle," which is a symbol of inner strength and curiosity, university officials said. So far, 350 turtles have been found, with the lucky winners receiving prizes like Starbucks and Applebee's gift cards and iPods. (The turtles, when pieced together on the game's Web site, form a map with further clues, with each segment of the puzzle appearing as contestants redeem their codes.) The university's student paper, Diamond Back Online, also recently ran a piece to help get the word out. It's an interesting idea, though as that article points out, there's been a big WTF reaction among many baffled students.

—Posted by Elaine Wong

Who killed Toby? Play the 'Office' version of 'Clue' and find out

Posted on Thu Sep 17 2009

Officeclue

Michael Scott did it in the warehouse with a "World's Best Boss" mug. At least, that's how it might turn out if indeed the titular head of Dunder Mifflin's Scranton, Pa., branch killed his mild-mannered frenemy, Toby. But this is just a game, after all, and the murderer in the Office version of Clue has to be Dwight anyway. He's the shifty one with the hair-trigger temper and an unnatural attachment to his boss. Plus, he's a cat euthanizer! The whodunit board game, made by USAOPOLY via a Hasbro license and a deal with NBC Universal's consumer products division and the show's producer, Reveille, launched recently at Borders, Barnes & Noble and other retailers. It puts the paper-company employees of the Emmy-winning NBC comedy in the office on a Saturday—of course they're grumbling about overtime—to figure out who offed Toby, the head of human resources. (Toby's probably not really dead, by the way.) The timing's good—the new season of The Office premieres tonight—and what fan doesn't want to extend the experience by accusing Jim Halpert of doing it in the parking lot with a rabid bat?

—Posted by T.L. Stanley

Only the spirits know why Ouija boards are enjoying a comeback

Posted on Fri Aug 14 2009

When we played with a Ouija board as kids, there was always that one time when I was completely convinced it was telling me something important, usually that I was adopted and those crazy people weren't really my parents. But mostly, even at the tender age of tween, I knew it was hokum. So, explain if you will the recent resurgent interest in all things Ouija. Should we just hand it to Hasbro for being masterful marketers? Maybe so, considering their billion-dollar toys-to-feature-films franchises like Transformers and G.I. Joe. (And more such films are in the works. See: Candy Land, Monopoly, Battleship.) Is it a sense of nostalgia, a fascination with the supernatural, or a back-to-basics drive for simple board games that's giving Ouija a bump? It could be the nagging uncertainty of these recessionary times. (Tell me, spirits, will I ever get health insurance?) Whatever the reason, Target is having a bit of a windfall around it, selling out of its glow-in-the-dark version in some stores in its first few weeks on shelves this month. And the movie version, for now cleverly dubbed Ouija Board, is moving along, having signed Michael Bay's Platinum Dunes as the production company. (Hint: Stuff will blow up.) Maybe consulting a Ouija board about the state of the universe isn't such a far-fetched idea. And that glow-in-the-dark model? Answers will be visible even if the power gets shut off.

—Posted by T.L. Stanley

Come on down, it's time to play a new game show on YouTube!

Posted on Tue Jul 28 2009

YouTube has been a forum for many things: rants, cute cat antics, cute baby antics, embarrassing public moments. But how about a game show? Since last fall, Eric Friedberg, a partner at Newton, Mass., promo agency Cohen-Friedberg Associates, has spent more than $45,000 of his own money trying to get the concept of an online game show going on ItsEasyToWin.com, which garnered about 18,000 page views. This week, he moved the idea on to YouTube. The new game, State Your Case, is a riff on Deal or No Deal, and shows Friedberg presenting a metal case, which he says contains a license plate. Guess the correct state, and you will be put into a random drawing to win prizes starting at $1,000. Freidberg, who attracted Jolly Time Popcorn and Aruba Tourism to ItsEasyToWin, currently lacks a sponsor, but says the game-show format is a great way to get consumers to research a product. For Jolly Time, for instance, part of the show involved getting consumers to answer trivia questions about the brand. Freidberg says the recession hasn't helped sell the idea: "A lot of marketers these days are just excited that they have a job."

—Posted by Todd Wasserman

Rubik's Cube blending old-school charm, new-school marketing

Posted on Thu Jun 18 2009

Rubikscube

Back in 1980, an obscure toy from Budapest, known locally as the Hungarian Horror, appeared on American shelves. The 3-D puzzle was re-named after its inventor, Erno Rubik. And, well, you know the rest.
  Rubik's Cube is still a remarkably popular diversion (350 million sold to date). But 29 years ago, the Cube was competing with Scrabble, not the Xbox. So, Rubik's owner, London-based Seven Towns Ltd., has lit upon a 21st-century marketing message: The Cube is good for kids' self esteem. The new "You CAN Do the Rubik’s Cube!" program for kids includes a Web site, YouCanDoTheCube.com, with an all-inclusive e-tutorial to help kids cut through Rubik's 43 quintillion configurations and, in the process, gain "confidence and a great sense of pride." The site features a "Cuber Corner," where kids can post encouraging messages for one another, and a "Math Twist"—directions for teachers who want to incorporate the Cube into algebra and geometry lessons. Testimonials include those of "Bryan," 14,  who affirms that after solving the Cube, "I felt smart."
  Good for him—and for the brand. In an age when parents are snapping up Baby Einstein videos and worrying whether Junior will get into Harvard, Rubik's new message should ring loud and clear. Plus, it's just nice to see an analog game finally running with the digital dogs. The Web site also features videos of celebs like Tiger Woods and Will Smith solving their Cubes. And while they don't say it, the message is clear: Smart is cool, kids—and you don't even have to bug your parents for batteries.

—Posted by Robert Klara

IBM creates machine built to impress Alex Trebek on 'Jeopardy'

Posted on Mon Apr 27 2009

During the classic days of Wheel of Fortune, there was ample room for product placement at the end of the show, when the winner got to spend his or her cash on the "Shopping for Prizes" segment. ("I'll take the leather Chippendale sofa for $1,000, the Lapiz gold cufflink for $1,200 and put the rest in a gift certificate.") Jeopardy! is a more highbrow affair, so for IBM to get that kind of exposure, it had to build a computer with artificial intelligence. IBM's new machine, named Watson (after founder Thomas Watson), is planning to go on Jeopardy! sometime soon and compete against mere humans, perhaps even against 74-time winner Ken Jennings. IBM conquered chess years ago when its Deep Blue machine beat world champion Garry Kasparov in 1997. (Kasparov disputed the win. A second match ended in a tie.) Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek positively gushes at the prospect of machine taking on man on his game show, which he calls the "the gold standard" of intelligence. "It's a big challenge for IBM, but I have a feeling they're up to the task," says Trebek. Uh, what is obsequiousness?

—Posted by Todd Wasserman


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