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The Videolamer Guide to In-Game Advertising

posted on April 10th, 2006 by the marketeer

A guide to only what you should do would be incomplete. Marketing in games, like marketing in any other medium, can not only be bad, it can be "offensive." The irony is that many good ads are deemed offensive by fringe segments of society. To help you understand what to avoid, I have compiled a few well done ads that were eventually pulled because of their content and coupled each with a lesson that can be learned.

DON’T be "intolerant"

A small minority of fundamentalists believe something is more important than money. These people are often dangerous, but they, too, have money to spend on your product. It is imperative that you do not turn them off from your product by running racy or sacrilegious ads. Look at this example:

I have come to busteth a cap in thous ass

You would think a spot that puts Jesus in a position of power and authority would be embraced by believers, but the startling fact is that many were offended. The ultimate irony in this particular ads case was that the Roman Catholic Church paid for it in order to make the big J more appealing to white boys in junior high. Pope Benedict will think twice before he tries another stunt like this because he has learned a very important rule of advertising: Don’t offend people, even if you are a Nazi.

DON’T "stereotype"

It seems like innate knowledge to you and me, but not everyone knows black people love fried chicken and watermelon. Amazingly enough, if a fact is about a specific group of people it’s called a stereotype. Krazy Kens Khicken and Melon Shack was forced to pull this ad, costing them not only what it cost to place it in the game but also the revenue they would have made had they posted a less “stereotypical” ad.


What seems obvious to you may not be obvious to everyone. Even if you know Jews are cheap, plenty of Jews will still deny it. Take heart in knowing that ads that portray positive stereotypes are not only acceptable, but often big money makers. Italian Americans (guineas to us ad people) cook well and if you ignore the morbid obesity and heart disease that plagues their people, this is a good angle for a successful ad, despite the stereotype. Ads running in the Godfather game have become some of the Olive Garden’s biggest earners.

Here you're family


For every way to get it right there is a way to royally mess things up. This is the edge we advertising people must walk along daily, but having read this article you are now better balanced than your competition. While I can’t go over every wrong thing to do, for example I left out "DON’T put your ad on the Game Over screen", I think I have empowered you with the wisdom to know what is right for your business.

But enough negative thinking, you should focus on all of the things you can do to tap into the gaming demographic. Follow the steps outlined and you will not only grow your business, but find yourself feeling very tech savvy. In day to day life, nerds may still feel superior to us because they "invent" new products, sciences and technologies, but with a little understanding of how they operate, we can buy their trust where they don’t expect it. Their escapism has become our brochure.


  1. Billy said on April 10, 2006:

    Haha this was great. I thought we posted it already though. Anyway good stuff this needs to go spread around.

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