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Business, Entertainment - Written by on Friday, August 7, 2009 13:33 - 0 Comments

Tohato has Got Game: the Japanese Snack Maker’s Marketing Success

Often, I have seen a great advertising idea and thought that it’s too bad that the idea would not be applicable to most companies due to the nature of products that they sell. For example, in 2007, BMW created an online racing game that allowed consumers to configure a BMW M3 Coupé and race it on Nürburgring Grand Prix circuit. The game acquainted players with BMW’s product and gave them a free, entertaining experience that they would associate with the brand. I thought to myself that such advertising is great for an automotive manufacturer, but couldn’t be effectively applied to, say, a consumer packaged goods company. Well, I was wrong.

TohatoTohato, a Japanese snack manufacturer, launched the “World’s Worst War,” a massively multiplayer online game created to promote the launch of two new spicy snack flavours: “Tyrant Habenero Burning Hot Hell” and “Satan Jorquia Bazooka Deadly Hot”. The flavours were positioned as rivals with each snack claiming to be the spiciest, and the matter was settled on the battlefield. To join the battle, a consumer would purchase one flavour of the snack and with their cell phone, scan the 2D barcode (called a QR code). The consumer would then become a part of either Tyrant Habenero’s or Satan Jorquia’s army, depending on the flavour they had bought. Every 24 hours, there would be a battle at one of the 31 online battlefields and players would receive updates from “War Reporters” on recent battle developments, including who had been captured by the opposing army and who of their comrades had been promoted to a higher ranking officer.

By awarding special mobile standby screens to battle winners and offering an increase in rank as well as improved fighting power to players that recruited friends to their army, Tohato was able to promote the viral nature of the game. The “World’s Worst War” became very popular, with over 10,000 participants in total. Players even created communities online to discuss strategy for upcoming battles. Tohato reported that as a result of the campaign, sales increased significantly and page views on their website increased to 100,000 per day.

The success of this campaign is evidence of the shift in power that has occurred in the marketing world. With TiVo, time-shifting and media available online, consumers have become empowered to decide which advertising they view, and to get their attention, marketers must create value for them. The “World’s Worst War” was able to do just that. It introduced new consumers to Tohato products while providing an entertaining experience that consumers appreciated.

So, if even a CPG like Tohato can integrate their product into an exciting online game of war, marketing through games should be applicable to almost any industry.

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