Window to the Future

by on Jun.23, 2010, under technology

It seems that I can’t escape them.  I’ve been through my honeymoon phase with Facebook so I’m past the crest of full immersion and on to the phase where I’ve blocked most of the game and app requests so that my news stream looks less like some sort of ticker feed from a bizarre slot machine and more like a list of random status updates and photo posts (which I’ve gotten somewhat out of the habit of reading often anyway).  And yet this morning I found that some have taken to the closed door / open window philosophy to an odd new level.

I was on my way to work, had refueled my wheels and decided that I needed some fuel myself.  So I pulled into 7-Eleven to pick up some form of caffeine-based liquid enrichment.  As I do, in the same spot they normally place their product-promoted Slurpee poster of the moment, I saw something surprising.  It seems that the current promotional cup series for this product features various Facebook games – specifically depicted were Farmville, Yo-ville, and Mafia Wars.

As an aware consumer and one who works and has worked in various levels of marketing-adjacent industries, I like to think that I get on a core level how product placement advertising works and how important demographic targeting can be to marketing success.  It would not have occurred to me to align the users of such niche games as these in an application of fairly broad but still limited reach to the consumers of such products (though in thinking more about it, perhaps it does make a sort of sense).  But typically such cross-product promotion is intended to (a) drive the consumer to buy the immediate product (e.g., get a Slurpee because it has a cool cup) and also (b) drive the consumer to buy into the brand featured (e.g., if they were Iron Man cups, go out and see Iron Man and/or buy other Iron Man merchandise).  In this case, the featured brand is a series of free games that themselves are advertiser-subsidized.  I guess driving customers to consume such products still results in increased revenue for the producer (after all, Google fits a similar paradigm and they advertise), but it seems like a step in a new and unusual direction.

I’m curious where this will proceed.  Should I expect to next see a set of iPhone app-themed coffee mugs (could you imagine the potential of an iFart travel mug)?  Perhaps this is the dawn of a new era of marketing.  Who knows.  The only thing I can know for sure is that even with the best of efforts, Farmville is inescapable.


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