Chipotle Takes Advergame Seriously… and Wins
By Nancy Scott on October 24th, 2013
Mobile gaming developer Clicklabs says, “Audience attention is waning from traditional interrupt marketing … Branded games (or advergames) are the perfect solution: They reinforce your brand’s credibility through an enjoyable, engaging experience.”
Case in point? “Scarecrow,” Chipolte’s recent triumph in the advergame arena.
Comprised of three parts (the game, the film, and the facts), “Scarecrow” features a three-minute video portion that’s gone viral. From the strains of “Pure Imagination” sung by Grammy Award®-winning artist Fiona Apple, to the animated mastery displayed in muted fall colors, to the power of emotion extracted from simple objects, the video grabs. Since its release September 11, over 7 million viewers have hit “play.”
To Chipolte, “organic,” “family-farmed,” and “local” are serious food issues. “It’s all fun and games until someone wrecks a planet,” the website announces. And, much to its credit, Chipolte stays solidly on message in merging the three-part strategy. Steve Ells, Chipolte founder, chairman, and co-CEO puts it clearly,”At Chipolte, our mission is to change the way people think about and eat fast food.”
Digital marketing expert Eder Holguin, CEO of content discovery platform www.IdealMedia.com, praises Chipolte’s innovative effort. “With the costs of developing advertisement games getting cheaper, we will see more and more brands engaging in this untapped opportunity… the innovative advertisement-game hybrid will certainly go down in history as one of the most successful marketing campaigns.” Not everyone is so enthusiastic, though. Washington Post writer Alexandra Petri quotes one of his friends saying, “That doesn’t make me want to eat Chipolte. That makes me want to curl up in a vegan coma and never eat again.”
Meanwhile, the buzz goes on.
Advergaming isn’t new (a 2007 article in BloombergBusinessWeek noted that the basic model of the advergame was pioneered in 1995 by a company called Skywork). Still, “Scarecrow” definitely blurs (erases?) the lines between information, advertising, and entertainment, giving marketers one more channel to consider.