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As brands battle for relevance, recognition and retention among consumers who are navigating the societal and economic shifts from COVID-19, marketers are seeking innovative ways to connect with their target audiences. The coronavirus and related social distancing and stay at home orders led to a surge in the video game market, and the re-launch of Nintendo’s Animal Crossing: New Horizons became a solution for brands looking for new advertising platforms to reach consumers striving to escape boredom. From luxury fashion to the NFL, top brands jumped on the opportunity to partner with the hottest-selling video game of 2020.
Sales of Nintendo’s Animal Crossing & Switch Soared In Q1 2020
In March, Nintendo launched its hit game, Animal Crossing: New Horizon, for its Switch game console. Within the first six weeks of Animal Crossing’s release, Nintendo sold more than 13 million copies of the game. For the fiscal year ending March 31, 2020, Nintendo reported a surge in operating profits and spikes in Switch game console sales. For the period of January through March 2020, Nintendo reported approximately 49 million Switch console hardware and software units sold worldwide. The global video game brand forecasted an additional 19 million Switch units to sell from April 2020 to March 2021. Although Animal Crossing is not a new game, the re-launch of the 2001 phenomenon was timed perfectly with consumers spending more time indoors and searching for alternative entertainment options. Major brands quickly took notice of Animal Crossing’s success and jumped on the opportunity for unique partnerships with Nintendo’s hottest game.
NFL’s Detroit Lions 2020 Schedule Revealed In Animal Crossing
On May 7th, the Detroit Lions used their official Twitter page to notify fans that they would be revealing a team announcement in Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Fans who ventured to play the game, or gamers curious about the team’s news, could shop Lions official NFL apparel in the Animal Crossing Custom Design Portal. Animal Crossing avatars could don Lion’s gear as they waited for the team to reveal its new 2020 game schedule.
High Fashion Houses Marc Jacobs & Valentino Launched Animal Crossing Character Fashions
The fashion industry was desperately seeking a new way to promote the top looks of the season, as most fashion shows were cancelled due to COVID-19. While the coronavirus affected many industries negatively, the video game market boomed. Capitalizing on the surge in game popularity, luxury fashion brands Marc Jacobs and Valenino both took to social media to announce each of their brands’ respective launches of high-fashion looks. Players could use unique QR codes to dress their avatars in high-end attire, then choose to purchase the clothes online to wear in real life (IRL). Both of the famous fashion brands parterd with @AnimalCrossingFashionArchive to share their special collections. The Animal Crossing fashion archive currently has 37K Instagram followers.
KFC Debuted Its Own Animal Crossing Island Restaurants To Deliver Chicken IRL
This month, KFC Philippines launched virtual versions of its quick service restaurants on a variety of Animal Crossing: New Horizon’s islands. The iconic chicken chain promoted unique game codes on its Facebook brand page. KFC released an exclusive code that led gamers to an Animal Crossing villager dressed as Colonel Sanders who provided offer codes for free eight-piece meals, redeemable in real life.
Nintendo’s Animal Crossing: New Horizon May Be Just The Beginning For Brands Seeking Innovative Ways To Engage Consumers
COVID-19 has shown marketers that customer acquisition and retention is a delicate formula consisting of consumer perception of brands’ price points, availability, relevance, trustworthiness and how brands align with evolving consumer values. As the effects of the global pandemic are still to be determined, brands that once relied heavily on live and experiential activations may continue seeking alternative marketing strategies. Deploying virtual activations via video games may be one way brands can move forward with campaigns focusing on reaching and engaging new audiences. As in-game advertising begins to evolve into an alternative experiential activation, brands that embrace in-game advertising have another avenue to broaden brand awareness. The video game industry’s audience represents a large population of users, and it’s growth is not expected to slow down any time soon. The innovative marketing efforts of the Detroit Lions, KFC, Marc Jacobs and Valentino are examples of how in-game advertising can empower marketers to broaden their brand’s awareness among new audiences, reinforce relationships with current customers and grow their overall marketplace footprint by increasing recognition.
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