Boy playing video game

Game on. The rise of video game culture and the marketing opportunities it presents.

Sean Rodman - VP, Creative Director

Video games. They’ve been with us since the late 1950s, believe it or not, although the first video game to gain widespread popularity was the tennis game, Pong, in the 1970s. Flash forward to today and video games are a $109 billion industry with more than 2 billion gamers across the globe. To put that in perspective, the movie industry makes just over $36 billion in yearly revenues. Games are big. And they’re not just for teenage boys anymore, as anyone with a mother hooked on Candy Crush will tell you.

But what does this mean for marketing communications? Even in the digital age, companies and marketing firms don’t typically consider video games as potential advertising tools. At Hart, we do. So in this blog post, we’re going to walk you through some of the opportunities video games present for communications and brand building, as well as share a couple of our own experiences in the medium.

Putting the know in KENO.

A novel, and incredibly fun, way to communicate with your target audience interactively is by creating your own game. Our digital and creative departments, working together, recently did just that for the Ohio Lottery. The Lottery came to us looking for a way to better teach bartenders and wait staff how to interact with their customers to encourage KENO sales. We devised a simple video game that utilized humor to allow bartenders and servers to play out a customer interaction. You can see a little bit of the game below.

Ohio Lottery Keno Game Sample

If you don’t have the budget for the development of a wholly unique game, you can purchase what is known as a “white label” game. These are simple, pre-made games that can be “skinned” (customized) with graphics and language related to your product or service.

Why the chicken crossed the road.

Another great marketing opportunity presented by video games is to advertise within the game itself. While it’s true that only large, worldwide brands can typically afford sponsorship or signage within games like Madden or Forza, app-style games that you can play on your phone, tablet or television present more doable opportunities. Take the game Crossy Road, for example. As you play the game, it will offer you the option of watching a television commercial to earn in-game credits that you can spend on various upgrades. Imagine that; your target audience actively choosing to watch your marketing content. Engagement doesn’t get more direct than that.

Crossy Road game image

Reality bytes.

Lastly, let’s touch on augmented reality. Augmented reality, in its most basic form, is when your smartphone or tablet shows you virtual objects that don’t exist in real life. Pokémon GO is probably the most famous example of this. Point your phone at a particular place and it shows you a critter that exists in your phone space but not the real space. There are myriad ways marketers can take advantage of this technology. Virtual billboards being one example.

Another example – and one that Hart had the good fortune of working on last year – was the Ohio Lottery’s Game of Gold. The Game of Gold leveraged augmented reality technology to bring lottery tickets to life. By hovering a smartphone over their tickets, players would see a three-dimensional castle appear on their screens. They could then click on the castle windows to collect their winnings. Below is the TV commercial we created for the game. It was paramount for us to clearly demonstrate how the game worked, so we started there and worked backwards to come up with the concept of a princess in her castle tower being annoyed by the player of the game.


Video games are one of the largest industries on the planet. Moreover, they present avenues to market that are relatively new to the general public. This ubiquity and novelty combine to offer remarkable new communications and brand-building options for our clients. So next time you’re looking to think outside the box, consider that it might be an Xbox.

To learn more about this and other marketing solutions that make sense for your brand, contact:

Sharon Stemen
Manager, New Business Development
419.893.9600 Ext. 161