Every market has a culture. There is wine culture, car culture and gaming culture. There is football culture, food culture and startup culture. You get the point. The way advertisers should sell into these markets is not to focus of capturing share of voice in their competitive set, but capturing share of culture with their target.
What do we mean by culture?
People who share a culture share values, a common language, history, heroes, symbols, legendary stories and, more often than not, a set of media partners. If brands want to participate in the culture of their targets’ market they need to share the culture’s values and language, celebrate its history, and contribute to its stories and legends.
By way of example, let’s look at the launch of Titanfall that we executed for Electronic Arts.
Titanfall was one of the most highly anticipated game releases in the last couple of years, particularly because it’s the very first game developed by the creators of Call of Duty since they left Activision.
The game is known as a “first person shooter” (FPS), and the goal of EA and Respawn was to refresh the FPS genre and move the category of gaming forward. As a result, the game itself is different than any other FPS on the market.
As we thought about the best way to launch this groundbreaking title, a couple of things became clear:
- Because we were launching a game that was going to push the category forward, we wanted to celebrate the history of gaming and acknowledge the giants of the past on whose shoulders we were standing.
- Because we were communicating with a target who has their own language and who tends to ignore those who do not speak their language, we wanted create assets that they could use to talk to one another.
- And because we were establishing a new title, we wanted to likewise establish a new storyline in the category.
Life is better with a Titan.
The idea that drove the campaign was “Life is Better with a Titan” – a fun, playful concept that allowed us to show people that everything (but especially gaming) was better with a Titan.
1. We pushed the idea forward by creating a piece of long-form video content that used a combination of live action and game footage, giving gamers a playful way to see how everything – such as the morning walk to work – was “Better with a Titan.” Since its release, the video has received over 10 million YouTube views, about twice the number of people who watch The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.
2. We celebrated the history of gaming by partnering with Atari and licensing the historical Titans of gaming: Centipede, Missile Command, and Asteroids. We made them “better” by adding a Titan mech to the gameplay of each, and then turned the games into playable ad units. Within the first week of the campaign, millions of games had been played, and industry publications like IGN were buzzing with positive reaction to the execution.
3. We communicated with gamers in their own language by leaning into animated GIFs. Once a simple way to share very short video clips online, animated GIFs have become a language of their own, with millions of people using them to quickly communicate, whether it’s with amusement, confusion, disgust and so on. We created the Titanfall GIF generator to allow people to create their own GIFs to share with their friends. During the first week of the campaign, tens of thousands of GIFs were created, and were viewed an average of 10 times each – providing a viral boost to the reach of the campaign.
None of this matters if sales don’t move.
The result? The game has flown off the shelves, selling nearly a million copies in the first week of release, outpacing all of its rivals:
Some estimates are indicating that the game launch helped Microsoft sell an additional million XBox One consoles.
This is just one example.
Focusing on share of culture – rather than share of voice – can make advertising more effective. It allows brands to go from interrupting experiences to enhancing them, and as a result is far more appreciated by consumers.
If you’d like to see more examples, or talk about how we can help your brand capture share of culture, contact us.