3 old skool video games with serious direct response marketing

One of my favorite types of marketing is direct response.  Direct response marketing is about creating instant excitement or causing an emotion that causes a reaction in a person’s behavior and is instantly measurable.  It is very common in infomercial products as well as magazine ads, on radio and even online with remarketing, ad serving, in call centers and other channels.  You basically serve a strong message, get the person to a landing page and get them to check out.  Sometimes you also drive them through an up-sell tree and measure the profitability of the sale, even with drop off because of the upsells, etc…

Before we had online direct response marketing, some smart companies and video game enthusiasts decided to take direct response marketing and bring them into the main stream via new channels.  These new channels are things that most people wouldn’t have thought of normally.  They went after the video game enthusiasts and kids who were playing games on Nintendo and Atari.  Here are three of my favorite old skool direct marketing campaigns through video games.

Pitfall – Although I won’t admit to being old enough to remember playing a game called pitfall, you know the one where you swing from vines over alligator pits.  However I will admit that I did take a camera (I think it was a Polaroid) and took a picture of one of the higher levels to get my Pitfall badge.  What the game did was tell the fans to take a picture and mail it in when they got to a certain level.  The picture was to prove you made it to the level and in return you would get a pitfall badge.  Not only did this cause every Pitfall fan to go crazy and obsess over getting to that level, but it caused thousands of pictures to be taken, addictions to their game and tons of people talking and bragging about Pitfall.  Then when people would get their badges, they would wear them and that would cause other people to ask about them and possibly go buy the game themselves to get a badge.  Not only was this a clever way to go viral, but it was a seriously cool direct response styled campaign that had the potential to cause a ton of sales just to fit in by having a badge.

Roger Rabbit – If you remember the game Roger Rabbit, you may remember the restaurant where you would go under the table or look in a hidden place in the restaurant to find a phone number.  The minute we discovered this phone number I remember running upstairs and begging my mom to let me call it.  She said no, but eventually when I was older I did convince her to let me call.  Unfortunately by that time the message was gone.  I remember finding out what it was eventually, but I can’t remember what it was right now.  Regardless of the phone number or message, I still remember finding the phone number and instantly wanting to call it to find out a trick or secret about the game.  It was a brilliant way to cause a reaction within the video game.

Dominos the Noid. If there is one game that I was hooked on and always craved a pizza from it was the Dominos Noid game.  Not only did everyone love the commercials on tv, but instead of going after a placement in a video game, Dominos created their own video game.  Dominos has always been extremely creative with marketing, and even now they are doing things like getting into social media by placing real time feedback from their customers in Times Square.  The one thing that I don’t think anyone can say about Dominos is they never lack in creative marketing, and their video game was a great way to keep their brand in front of kids and keep them wanting pizza.  There were even pizza eating games and bonuses I think tied into the game to make sure that you were craving dominos by the time the game was over.

Even in early video games, companies would buy ad space inside the game on billboards and place products and logos in cars or within stores and shops.  Direct response has morphed over the years and now that people can open their own shops in games like Second Life, and then run their own real direct response ads to make money inside them, direct response marketing has taken on a new life.  If you have a favorite old skool game with direct response marketing, feel free to leave a comment below.

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