How Brands Use Promotional Games To Drive Sales and Marketing

A series of case studies involving brands such as Budlight, Kia, Tissot and Disney. Learn how these billion dollar companies leverage games to activate campaigns, engage users and make sales.

If you're reading this article, you're curious about games. You know they're fun, but you're unsure how to use games to promote your brand. This in-depth article shall explain, in plain english how top brands are innovating in the games space.

Kia Plinko Game

Kia sells cars. Their sales representatives are incentivized to sell more cars. Knowing this fact, Kia built a promotional game designed to give priority test drives to visitors at car showrooms.

The game's premise is simple. While waiting to talk to a salesperson, showroom visitors sign up on the iPad with their name and contact info. They're then allowed to drop a digital chip into the Plinko board. The chip randomly falls to one of the 8 car models on display. The visitor is then awarded a prize giveaway. This ranges from small gifts such as keychains, to bigger prizes such as upgraded priority test drives. The instant gratification of winning a prize helps user connect emotionally to the brand.

By letting visitors play the game, they're able to emotionally connect with Kia even before talking to the salesperson. By the time the human interaction begins, the salesperson already has information about the visitor to begin a sales conversation. As we all know, leads like this are highly valuable. The salesperson can then follow up on this lead during, or even after the event.

Having the ability to capture user's information via game, is also extremely valuable to avoid lost leads. Often times, car showrooms can be crowded. The ratio of sales representatives to visitors can be very low, hence it's tough for sales reps to talk to every single visitor. By having the game easily accessible from a kiosk in the showroom, visitors can self-serve, connect with the brand via the game, and leave their contact details if they're interested in follow up conversations.

What does it cost to build a game like this? We estimate this at around $10k - $20k USD. The benefit to cost ratio of this game is huge. The game is built once, deployed across various kiosk tablets in the showroom. It can be reused at every car showroom in the United States, potentially generating millions of dollars of sales.

Watch the Kia Plinko game in action

Budlight Whatever USA Beer Bottle Cap Game

As part of Budlight's Whatever USA outdoors campaign, the marketing execs decided to launch a promotional game for the fans. This massive campaign takes experiential marketing to the next level, where the brand converted a tiny town in Colorado called Crested Butte, into a town called "Whatever, USA". They paid over $500k to the town for this advertising stunt.

The Budlight Bottle Cap game is a small part of the outdoor experience. Upon signing up with an iPad at the booth entrance, visitors get 30 seconds to tap on as many beer bottle caps as possible. If the player taps on the correctly branded bottle caps (Budlight and its partner brands), she scores points. If she taps on the wrong cap, points are deducted. Once the 30 seconds are up, the game's algorithm decides the winner, and awards a special prize.

By launching a promotional game like this, Budlight managed to leverage an digital experience into one what emotionally connects with users in the real world.

Watch the Budlight Beer Bottle Cap game in action

Disney's Phineas and Ferb

Phineas and Ferb is a popular animated TV series with millions of viewers since 2007. In a effort to promote the TV show via a different medium, Disney decided to launch a casual game.

Targetted at a young audience, Phineas and Ferb Backyard Defense is a tower defense game. Players take roles of both Phineas and Ferb. They build defensive structures to ward off the minions designed by Dr Doofenshmirtz. They can build electric zappers, pillow cannons, freeze cannons and many other ingenious contraptions that the brothers normally think of.

Since the game targets hardcore fans of the show, the game's creative direction needed to incorporate elements from the show, as well as an overall fun tower defense game, that keeps fans coming back for more. Each level is designed to be progressively more challenging. New dialog, new minions and new structures are introduced with each new level.

The game was plugged into the Disney kids iOS and Android apps, where it has an existing user base of a few million downloads. The key to success for this, is a strong user base as well as careful development of the games, to make sure every single detail is authentic to the the voices of Phineas and Ferb. This allowed players to essentially relive the TV show, in form of a game.

Watch the Phineas and Ferb game in action

Tissot Rugby Game

If you're a fan of rugby, this will be right up your alley. Tissot, the luxury watch maker is a proud partner for the RBS 6 Nations Rugby Championship Tournament. They developed a rugby game in conjunction with the event. Called the "Tissot Tackle", this casual game's premise is simple: control a player's movement to score as many touchdowns as possible. Without being tackled.

What might seem simple on the user-side, actually involves careful planning both in marketing and development. On the development side, the team carefully rebranded an existing rugby game with all visual elements from the tournament. The players were renamed into the rugby stars that fans can relate to. The pitch contained Tissot and RBS logos. The health bar was Tissot branded.

Social integrations are the life blood of this game. Within the game, players can share their scores via Facebook and Twitter feeds, to increase the chances of it being distributed widely. This induces on the social as well as competitive nature of the game. "How many touchdowns can you score?" is a common theme.

Watch the Tissot Rugby game in action

ALDI's Kids Portal

With almost 10,000 stores in 18 countries, ALDI is the leading supermarket chain in Europe. Now they're extending that lead, by innovating in the digital space. ALDILino is a kids portal designed for the German market.

With ALDILino, kids can learn and play a variety of casual games. These games localized into German to fit the target audience.

Not only is this good for the kids, it's also good for the parents who shop at ALDI. They know that their kids can resonate with ALDI and hence this boosts parents' confidence in the brand.

ALDIlino kids portal for the German market

Design your own Tic Tac

Tic Tac, the favorite mints company recently introduced a mini game where users can design their own Tic Tac Packs. Visitors visiting Tic Tac booths can play the game on iPads as well as at home on an internet connection.

The experience is simple. Upon signing up, visitors get to pick color of the Tic-Tac mints, design the font as well as the overall labelling of the brand. They can then share their designs in a public gallery, as a form of creative expression.

By launching a promotional game like this, Tic Tac managed to improve online and offline engagement with the brand.

Design your own Tic Tac pack

Playing games at 35,000 feet

With the current state of technology, it's tough to get an internet connection at 35,000 feet. Very few airlines offer this as a value added service.

Air Asia, the top budget airline in Asia is innovating in this space. They're building infrastructure that connects to the Internet. Passengers can listen to music, read the news, watch movies and play games.

Air Asia branded casual games can be played either from distributed tablets, or from their own device. By launching this initiative, Air Asia not only generates brand affinity, but also additional revenue from its passengers.

Watch the Air Asia game in action

Costs and ROI

On average, development companies charge $10-$50k USD per promotional game project. As a brand representative, you're probably thinking, what's the Return on Investment (ROI) for such projects? ROI depends on the goals of the marketing campaign. If a game such as Kia's is built with $20k, and generates $2 million in car sales, the ROI is extremely high. This is also due to the fact that the game is plugged directly into the sales funnel, where the dollar flow is obvious.

If it's brand exposure at an outdoor canival such as Budlight, the ROI goals should be shifted towards engagement. How many engaged users does a brand gain from the games, directly? What percentage of this contributes to the overall marketing campaign?

If the project involves plugging in a game using branded IP, such as Disney's Phineas & Ferb, the ROI should be adjusted for brand exposure. The brand rep has to ask questions such as "What percentage of the kids end up being engaged with the app?". Or, what percentage of game's audience tuned into the watching the TV series, or engage with other Phineas & Ferb related properties?

Coming up with realistic goals and key metrics is crucial to figuring out how effective a game is.


The technologies used to build the games mentioned above are HTML5 and Javascript. The cross-platform nature of HTML5 games makes it extremely flexible to be deployed on smartphones, tablets, desktop PCs and laptops with on a single code base. Top companies such as Google, Facebook, Apple and Amazon are backing this technology, making it extremely ubiquitous and high performant.

Next steps

We hope this article has been useful for you. Are you interested to have a developer build a promotional game for you? Are you interested to learn more about the nature of HTML5/cross platform games? Please fill in the contact form below, and our representative shall contact you shortly.

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Disclaimer: All data relating to this article is gathered from various sources. Estimates are based on sources with industry experience.