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U.S. Firms Use Online Games to Build Online Casino Malaysia Brands


NEW YORK (Reuters) – Why would Honda Motor Co., the auto giant, launch an interactive video game aimed at fickle U.S. Generation Xers?

The answer, in a word, is branding.

The game, to be launched next month, is just the latest effort by a big-name company to use online fun to build brand loyalty among tech-savvy Americans.

Like the trend to place branded products in music videos and movies, branded online games were born of the idea that companies can build consumer loyalty by associating their brands with entertainment.

Among the big names that now offer interactive games on their Web sites are Nabisco, a division of Kraft Foods Inc.(KFT), Burger King, a unit of Diageo Plc (DGE.L), and Kellogg Co. (K).

The most popular branded gaming site is Candystand (http://www.candystand.com), an offshoot of Nabisco’s Web site, which offers more than 30 video games highlighting various brands of LifeSavers candy.

A child who enters the site can play a Online Casino Malaysia game corresponding to their favorite kind of candy, such as “Kickerz Skate Rage” or “Creme Savers Pinball.” The site also offers sweepstakes and prizes associated with its various brands.

During June alone, more than 800,000 people visited Candystand at least once, according to data from Internet research firm Jupiter Media Metrix.

Details of Honda’s game are still under wraps, but the company has said that it features four cars in an urban environment, with a mountain backdrop.

But Honda’s game — being developed by a Los Angeles software company called YaYa that is dedicated to making branded games — may not have the same kind of popularity enjoyed by Candystand.

“Most gaming sites created by branded marketers are not statistically significant in terms of traffic,” Marissa Gluck, senior analyst with Jupiter Media Metrix, told Reuters. “It’s not clear that adding games to sites is going to increase traffic.”


But the phenomenon is gaining ground, and with good reason, when you consider how marketers value the ability to hold a Web surfer — a site’s “stickiness” in Web parlance — even for just a few minutes.

“If a game means someone will spend three or four minutes at your brand’s site, that amount of attention is pure gold,” Jim Nail, senior analyst for online advertising and marketing at Forrester Research, told Reuters.

At Big Kids, (http://www.burgerking.com/bkbigkids/index.htm), a “microsite” or offshoot of Burger King’s corporate site, the average user spends more time playing games than any of its other activities, such as sending an e-postcard or watching a movie clip, Syracuse said.

“One of our objectives is to provide an entertaining experience — something you can’t do in 30 seconds on television,” Cindy Syracuse, director of interactive and national for Burger King, said in an interview.

YaYa (http://www.yaya.com), which creates online interactive games for clients like Ford, Nike, and Paramount, has seen its business grow, despite the downturn in dot-coms.

Yaya began selling its gaming products (called “advergames”) at the beginning of the 2001 and became profitable after only four months despite the downturn in online advertising, according to Chief Executive Keith Ferrazzi.

“I keep meeting with people who say that life must be terrible for us,” Ferrazzi told Reuters in an interview. “But we’ve had fantastic reception.”


Ferrazzi, who was once the chief marketing officer for Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. (HOT), said Yaya sprang from his frustration with the limited ability of online advertising to interact with the consumer.

“There is nothing about a banner ad that is particularly interactive,” he said.

Yaya uses both Web sites and e-mail to distribute its advergames, enabling some of its campaigns to reach up to 5 million people.

One of Yaya’s most popular campaigns was a game to promote Ford Motor Company of Canada’s (F) new sports utility vehicle, the Ford Escape. “The Escape Moon Rally” features Ford Escape vehicles racing on the moon. Users who finished the game were automatically entered to win a variety of prizes including the vehicle itself. More than half of the people who played the game forwarded it to a friend via e-mail, according to YaYa.

But did users who played the Ford Escape game then rush out to take a look at one of the company’s new SUVs?

Because a consumer plays a game associated with a particular brand does not necessarily mean that he or she will be more apt to buy that brand, experts said.

“From a branding perspective I’ve seen no research about how it makes people feel about the brand,” Nail said.

Marketers said that there is indeed little they can do to measure the effect games have on consumers.

“I have not found a satisfactory way to measure it,” Syracuse said. “But if people like our promotions they are more likely to go to our Web site, so I see a direct correlation between the Internet and what is going on in our restaurants.”

Marketers said, however, that they will keep up with the trend by developing games with increasingly better technology.

“We have had to keep current with technology as it has improved so we can keep up with the games that kids are playing offline,” said a spokeswoman for Kellogg’s, whose site has included interactive games since 1995.

An example of the newest technology in online gaming is Honda’s game, which is YaYa’s first to allow multiple players, also includes a chat feature so that opponents can taunt one another while playing.




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