A few years back, gamers complained about craven product placement in new titles. Now, as an article posted on CNet reports, some fringe game makers are including corporate brands in their latest offerings--but as the subjects of ridicule.
One new game called "Disaffected!" allows gamers to step into the shoes of a FedEx Kinkos manager. Another allows gamers to stand in for McDonalds, handling cattle as roughly as you want and managing low-wage workers ungenerously. Though the games use corporate trademarks, they are supposedly legally protected as satire.
On the one hand, this is yet another salvo fired at Corporate America, which hasn't had a lot of good press lately. Some branding experts suggest that the emergence of so-called "anti-advergames" is particularly troubling given that gamers are often young. Corporate marketers should worry that young people are mocking blue-chip companies so mercilessly, the thinking goes. On the other hand, being pecked at in a game is the least of a big corporation's worries. One expert mentioned in the article even thinks that the all publicity is good publicity. As CNet writes:
"Brad Scott, director of digital branding at Landor Associates, which represents FedEx Kinkos, said he thinks such companies may actually benefit by being singled out from among several potential competitors.
"I don't know that they would have that negative effect on the brand," Scott said. "You can almost use it as, 'Boy, we've become such an icon as a brand that we're being mimicked by video games."
What do you think--is it bad news for a big brand when gamers make it the subject of satire? And what corporations, in your opinion, make for juicy targets for a snarky gamers?
Last updated: Feb 3, 2006
MIKE HOFMAN was previously editor of Inc.com and a deputy editor at Inc. magazine, which he joined in 1996. The site was nominated for a National Magazine Award for Digital Media in 2010, and was named the best business website by Folio Magazine. In 2006, Hofman was part of a team of writers nominated for a Webby Award for best business blog. He lives in New York City. @mikehofman