How much do advergames work? Really rather a lot – which is no bad thing… BUT…

For the last week in the UK there has been a little media storm about advergames and the power of them over young people.

Culminating in Channel 4’s Dispatches programme “Tricks of the junk food business” and starting with myself have been asked to go on the BBC breakfast show and Radio 4 on Saturday morning to comment on the findings from Bath University that children as old as 15 don’t understand that advergames are adverts.

Cue a link – to myself on the BBC arguing for more ‘parent power’ and less nanny state games bashing over the weekend

Way before the even sillier Channel 4 dispatches programme was aired.

And me defending games and the power of mobile gaming on the BBC sofa

The problem we have here is simple.

Advergames work – and they work too well.

But they don’t have to be targeted at children – or to ‘market’ things that are bad for us.

The devil doesn’t ALWAYS have to play the best tunes.

Advergames can be used for good as well (don’t get me wrong – this goodness is always subjective)

A great example is the Chipotle game over in America – for a fast food restaurant but one that prides itself on not being high fat or high sugar.

The point here is not about the product but more about the marketing – as the app campaign when mixed with great youtube positioning is a thing of legend.

Within four days of the mobile game’s release on the App Store, it was downloaded 250,000 times, making it the top 15 free iOS apps in the U.S. and unlike web based advergames, here the Chipotle Scarecrow icon remains visible in both the App Store and on the mobile devices of all those who downloaded it, acting as a constant reminder of the Chipotle brand.

how well did chipotle game do

Chipotle Scarecrow’s success can be attributed to two major factors. Firstly, the game’s production value is exceptionally high. Characters and environments are beautifully modeled, the plot emotionally engages players, and a large amount of varied content drives repeat usage. Secondly, the game provides all of this free of charge. It’s refreshing to play a high quality game that never pressures or requires spending money, even if the game itself is an advertisement. As such, advergames have a distinct and powerful advantage against other mobile games.


In addition to boosting the brand’s image as a provider of quality food and building relationships with its consumers, Chipotle’s mobile game has driven visits to its stores. Nearly 57,000 people have earned a buy-one, get-one-free (BOGO) card for a burrito bowl, salad, or tacos, offered as part of the game to players who earn one star on every level, according to the company. Chipotle has also garnered more than 22,000 e-mail opt-ins and around 4,200 mobile database opt-ins from the game. Whilst the accompanying youtube video was a wonderful work of art and surpassed – 12,698,860 views – really rather wonderful. See it here.

Looks all like great marketing to me. Which is why I am relaunching EnterMobile a place for brands to customise retro mobile games.

And the Chipotle work proves that you can use games and mobile games at that for good. Which itself is food for thought 😉



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