Last week, I took a look at the future relationship between gaming and social media – two tech industries that will forever be entwined. Today, I’m going to look at the present. We’re going to explore the possibilities of multi-screen marketing, and multi-screen entertainment, by looking at a collaborative project by some of the larger brands on the scene.
How do you capture the attention of an audience with a notoriously short attention-span? In the world of DVR, where we fast-forward through television ads while surfing the net on our phones, how can a marketing team make an impact? There is the short route – hope your commercial is funny enough to go viral online – and the long route.
Defiance is possibly the epitome of multi-screen entertainment. A combined effort by SyFy and game developer Trion Worlds, the property is – at the same time – a television show, video game, mobile communication, and a social campaign. Fans of the universe are encouraged to share in social networks, predominantly tumblr and Reddit, as well as the ever-present Facebook. During each episode, cast members and producers livetweet and share video responses. You are encouraged to watch with mobile device in hand, so you never miss a thing. The story of both game and show are influenced by each other, allowing fans to potentially interact with, and even appear on, both properties. Successful players in the official Defiance MMO (Massively-Multiplayer Online Game) can make appearances on the television show, and fan-favorite characters from the series routinely migrate into the game world for special events.
As the primary sponsor for the property, Dodge’s brand is peppered throughout almost all of Defiance’s various incarnations. The show’s lead characters drive modified Dodge Chargers through the future wasteland, and your own characters can join them in the Dodge-branded fun on Playstation 3, Xbox 360, and PC. The brand is always front and center, and you can’t escape it. While fans browse tumblr or Reddit waiting for the commercials (also heavily featuring Dodge) to be over, they are still interacting with the brand.
SyFy and Trion maintain several official channels for the brand, releasing meme-style posts during episodes and major game events. SyFy holds court over tumblr, running the official blog there, while Trion Worlds’ community managers are in control of the brand’s official subreddit. I contacted Trion Worlds about their motivations on the Reddit network, but have not yet heard back.
Overall, the fan community has had nothing but a positive response to the social marketing efforts of both companies. Tackling the waters of a science-fiction fandom is no easy task, and both companies deserve credit for their admirable work. But, really, social media makes up only a tiny slice of the marketing pie at work here. The social efforts are integrated fully into a larger campaign which includes everything from TV spots and web ads to giveaways, contests, and cast endorsement.
It is difficult to find a screen in your home that Defiance can’t make an appearance on. From mobile, to television, to social, to gaming, SyFy has invented a highly-visual property without modern comparison. Is it the right model for every brand? No, but ask Dodge and SyFy if the gamble paid off. When you’re dealing with brands of this size, you can’t be afraid to charge into uncharted waters.
Next week, I’ll wrap up this trilogy on the gaming industry by taking a look at what a few creative minds can accomplish together with much, much, smaller budgets.
Tim studied creative writing, fine art, and popular culture at Bowling Green State University. At Make Me Social, he develops and manages public-facing content for the Small Business Division. Before joining the team, Tim wrote for several blogs, websites, and short story collections including Groove Fiction, The Cog, and Ears and Loathing.