Fans Willing to Pony Up for M&M's Tasty Advergame
Those delectable M&M's characters seen in commercials are making their way to the iPhone. An advergame app titled "M&M's Brand Chocolate Factory" recently became available on iTunes for US$0.99.
Mars Retail Licensee Alchemy3 developed the app with cooperation from various groups within Mars.
Getting Into the Game
While many M&M's commercials involve the six characters in social situations trying to avoid being eaten, the new game has the group -- and all M&M's -- in peril of being dropped into hot milk chocolate and melting. The six M&M's characters need help to keep themselves and their friends out of the hot seat.
The game has 12 levels and players can reach up to 34 achievements playing the game. The twelve levels involve the assembly line antics of building a better mousetrap. Players use tools such as rubber bands, conveyer belts, pinwheels and pipes to keep falling lentils (M&M's) out of harm's way.
Alchemy3, the agency that created the game, worked with Mars' retail group and brand team at every phase of development.
"We just had to make sure that we were following the brand stewardship," Jeff Schweig of Alchemy3 told the E-Commerce Times.
The M&M's Brand
The agency had some personalities to work with. Mars has used personified M&M's in its ad campaigns for several years. The company also sells merchandising with the candy-coated chocolate characters at retail.
"People love the characters," Schweig said.
Mars has built an iconic brand for M&M's, and people will be willing to pay a nominal fee for the app.
"I am surprised they are charging for this one," said Chris Silva, an industry analyst focusing on mobile at the Altimeter Group. "Those plastic M&M characters -- people pay for the advertising there and they'll pay for it in the app."
Early reaction to the game appears positive. Within days of the app going live in the iTunes store, as many as five reviews popped up with positive comments -- some from parents who purchased the app for their kids.
"The right people seem to be giving it the right type of reaction right now," said Silva.
Mars helped promote the game on Facebook with a post on the M&M's page. In less than two weeks, the post had 5,361 likes, 562 shares and 47 comments.
Alchemy3 and Mars plan on promoting the game through social media on the M&M's Facebook page beyond the initial announcement. Features on the website M&MsWorld.com and traditional advertising are also planned, Schweig said.
Getting Social With M&M's
Facebook and other forms of social media will be deployed to tie into the game. Level completion and achievements will trigger Twitter messaging, Facebook posts and a game center leaderboard. The activity is expected to increase buzz for the game and hopefully draw more downloads.
"That's a double-edged sword, and I don't know which way the sword goes," Mark Baldwin of Baldwin Consulting told the E-Commerce Times. "It can get more of a market, but it can also be annoying for users of Facebook."
Advertising initiatives from Facebook, Twitter and other platforms have helped make those type of posts more acceptable.
"I think it can help, especially with promoted stories we're seeing on Facebook. Because there's that bar of in-your-face type of advertising," said Silva, who added that posts stating achievements in an advergame will likely be acceptable "as long as it's associated with someone from your network."
Advergames have seen some success in the past, and Mars has dropped their M&M's characters into a number of advergames. Past games included puzzles as well as takes on the classic games of checkers and Yahtzee. M&M's Brand Chocolate Factory keeps the M&M's characters within their context of candy coated chocolates, and the perils of being eaten or melted.
"It's a great cross-channel way to interact with potential buyers," said Silva.