Most people who know me, know that I am a huge fan of the general video game scene.

I recently purchased the excellent Trackmania United (which is all about creating wacky tracks and racing them), and apart from being highly satisfied of my overall experience, I was quite surprised to find local billboard ads for Bell on the racetracks. My reaction was threefold:

a) My gamer brain thought: "Mini ads for Bell. Looky that."

b) My ad industry brain thought: "Bell. The damn beavers again. What an idiotic campaign. I didn't even have time to read the ad, I was racing a high-speed car for pete's sake. Now, what was that billboard showing?? (I had to stop my car in front of the billboard, ruining my lap time) -- It was showing one of the 3D woodchucks saying "Too late. I've won". Too late, you've won what against whom? I don't get it."

c) My analytic brain said "What's the point of placing ads inside a video game, if they're not going to tell me something pertinent or informative, contribute to my gaming experience or give me special advantages inside the game?"

By extending their media placement within games, does Bell really believe that they're effectively engaging dialog with the gamer population? Placing billboard ads inside a video game, with no pertinent message, or anything that actually would call to action towards something that pursues the experience, is to me just another iteration of misemployed traditional media.

There are hundreds of ways to incorporate a brand experience inside a game, adding to the experience. But that's a notion marketers continue to struggle with...

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