MOBILE ADVERGAMES: SIMPLY FUN OR SLIGHTLY DECEPTIVE?STEPHAN DAHL, UNIVERSITY OF HULL LYNNE EAGLE, JAMES COOK UNIVERSITY
Concerns• Food marketers have long been criticised for contributing to childhood obesity (Hastings et al., 2003)• causing domestic conflict when children pester their parents for advertised products (Marshall et al., 2007)• children’s cognitive abilities are not yet fully developed (Eagle, 2007; Moses and Baldwin 2005).
• children may be highly susceptible to persuasion (such as that delivered in advergames) due to their immersive nature - but there is a lack of empirical evidence to support these claims (van Reijmersdal et al., 2011; Mallinckrodt & Mizerski, 2007).• lack of empirical evidence regarding children’s relationships with brands; although brand preferences are evident from young ages (John, 1999) and brand knowledge may be a part of socialization and ‘playground cool’ (Ritson & Elliott, 1999),
• industry has responded by claiming to self- regulate advergame content (and other marketing activity) , e.g. Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI)
Subliminal?• Original study has been shown to have been falsified - popular media have continued to claim behavioural effects (Broyles, 2006; Keys, 1973).• Short term effects have been created in artificial laboratory situations; there is no evidence of real- world effects (Cooper & Cooper, 2002).• Advertising content in advergames is overt, albeit subtle
Processing of advergame messages• low involvement, with few cognitive / rational decision choices (Heath, 2000) creates “exposure effect”• preference can be created by simply repeating message exposure with no active cognitive processing of messages.
Media usage• moving beyond traditional media – and computer based internet access.• Mobile phones in particular have found their way into everyday life of young people (Davie et al., 2004; OFCOM, 2008)• children are often allowed to play games on adults’ mobile phones,
• Advertising Standards Authority in the UK only covers “non-paid-for space online under [the advertisers] control”, which includes “advertiser-controlled pages on social networking websites”• but NOT pages and profiles of other users /social networks etc (Committee of Advertising Practice, 2010).
Our study• content analysis of advergames (Hofmeister- Toth & Nagy, 2011, Quilliam et al., 2011, Dahl et al., 2008)• assessment of actual practice• adherence to self-regulatory codes
• 57 major advertisers: – confectionary, – chewing gum, – crisps, – carbonated drinks and – cereals (Mintel 2009, 2011a, 2011b, 2011c, 2011d)Contained brands targeting children (e.g. WeetabixKids) and targeting mature market (e.g. Green & Black).
“any application that allowed theconsumer to interact with the applicationin a playful or joyful manner” arcade-like games, VR/AuR appsExcluded no interaction language other than English. Apple iPhone HTC Google Android 34 games 12 games
ChocolatesBrand Owned by CFBAI IPhone n Android nCadbury Dairy Milk Kraft Foods ü ü 2 ü 1Galaxy Mars Mars, Inc ü û 0 û 0Maltesers Mars, Inc ü ü 2 û 0Mars Mars, Inc ü û 0 û 0Kitkat Nestle ü ü 2 ü 1Aero Nestle ü û 0 û 0Wispa Kraft Foods ü ü 2 ü 1Snickers Mars, Inc ü û 0 û 0Milky Bar Nestle ü ü 1 û 0Twirl Kraft Foods ü ü 1 û 0Twix Mars, Inc ü û 0 û 0Green & Black Kraft Foods ü û 0 û 0
CrispsBrand Owned by CFBAI IPhone n Android nWalkers PepsiCo ü ü 1 û 0Pringles Diamond û ü 3 ü 1Doritos PepsiCo ü ü 1 ü 1McCoys United Biscuits û û 0 û 0Kettle Chips Diamond û û 0 û 0Quavers PepsiCo ü ü 1 ü 1Hula Hoops United Biscuits û ü 1 û 0Mini Cheddars United Biscuits û û 0 û 0Monster Munch PepsiCo ü û 0 û 0Wotsits PepsiCo ü û 0 û 0French Fries PepsiCo ü û 0 û 0walkers Baked PepsiCo ü û 0 û 0Seabrook crisps Seabrook û û 0 û 0Squares PepsiCo ü û 0 û 0Skips United Biscuits û û 0 û 0salt n shake PepsiCo ü û 0 û 0Tyrrells Tyrrells û û 0 û 0Redsky PepsiCo ü û 0 û 0
Carbonated DrinksBrand Owned by CFBAI IPhone n Android nCoca-Cola The Coca-Cola Comp. ü ü 7 ü 4Pepsi PepsiCo ü û 0 û 0Schweppes Dr Pepper Snapple û û 0 û 0Fanta The Coca-Cola Comp. ü ü 1 û 0Irn-Bru A. G. Barr û û 0 û 0Dr Pepper Dr Pepper Snapple û û 0 û 0Sprite The Coca-Cola Comp. ü ü 1 û 07UP Dr Pepper Snapple û û 0 û 0Tango BritVic û û 0 û 0R White’s BritVic û û 0 û 0
Chewing Gum/ConfectionaryBrand Owned by CFBAI IPhone n Android nWrigley’s Extra Mars, Inc ü ü 1 ü 1Randoms Nestle ü û 0 û 0Starmix Haribo û ü 1 û 0Natural Confectionery Co Kraft Foods ü û 0 û 0Wrigley’s 5 Mars, Inc ü ü 1 û 0Maynards Wine Gums Kraft Foods ü û 0 û 0Tic Tac Ferrero û ü 2 û 0Tangfastics Haribo û û 0 û 0Orbit Complete Mars, Inc ü û 0 û 0Extra Strong Gum Kraft Foods ü û 0 û 0
CerealsBrand Owned by CFAI IPhone n Android nKellogg’s Kellogg Company ü ü 2 ü 1Nestlé Nestle ü û 0 û 0Weetabix Weetabix û ü 1 û 0Jordans W. Jordans û û 0 û 0Kraft Foods Kraft Foods ü û 0 û 0Quaker Oats PepsiCo ü û 0 û 0Honey Monster Foods Honey Monster Foods û û 0 û 0
Number of games iPhone Android %CFBAI Member (36) 26 11 72.2%Non-members (20) 8 1 40%not consistent:PepsiCo: None for drink brands – but for DoritoNestlé: None for cereal brands - but two of their four confectionary brands.
Coding• Genre• Advertising Break• Age rating• Sponsor appearance• Need for registration• Nutrition information• Incentives to purchase (promotions)• Social Media functions• Personalisation
GenreGenre iPhone % Android % Adventure/Maze 7 21 2 1 6 Music 5 15 3 2 5 Sport 2 6 0 Simulation 1 3 0 Others 11 33 4 3 3Examples of others: Snowglobe Spin the bottle Augmented Reality
Ad breakdecrease desire for and memory of the advertisedproduct – but do not help children to recognise thecommercial intentAn and Stern (2011) iPhone % Android % Ad Break 0 0 0 0
Age VerificationEstablished practice/requirement for digital contentCommittee of Advertising Practice – UKChildren’s Advertising Review Unit - US iPhone % Android % Age Verification 4 12 2 1 6 But only asked for during first run!
Age rating• iPhone: All (but one) 4+• Android: All “Everyone” / “Low Maturity”• For comparison Football Fan Challenge (NHS): 17+
Registration• Six repeatedly• Five asked for• Majority no registration
Appearance iPhone % Android % Active Game Component 19 58 6 5 0 Background Item 12 36 4 3 0Banners Outside Gamespace 4 12 2 1 6 Logo During Game 23 70 10 8 3 Package 14 42 5 4 1 Food-item 13 39 4 3 0 Brand Character 6 18 3 2 5
Messages• 4 related to low calories• 2 no sugar• 2 general• NO nutritional information NO health/stay active information
Incentives iPhone % Android % Prize draws 4 12 3 2 4 Full access with code 3 9 2 1 6CAP & CARU Code compliance?Persuasion Knowledge?
PersonalisationGenre iPhone % Android % Game Mode 15 45 6 5 0 Character 8 24 3 2 5 Game space 8 24 4 3 3
Discussion• mobile advergames are still a relatively new phenomenon• currently available games successfully enhance conventional video-gaming by using social networking features and virtual reality/augmented reality features – making these games more engaging, personal and interactive than tradition “standalone” games and many advergames
• current regulatory codes promised to extend beyond traditional media, and provide a framework for digital media• BUT the codes fail to encompass these new, and constantly evolving media forms.
• “branded play-scape” is blurring of the boundary not only of entertainment and commerce, but also of inter-personal and commercial communication,
• Self-regulation of the industry seems so far not to hold pace with these developments and both the spirit and substance of advertising codes seem to be interpreted inconsistently, both across advertisers and within brands owned by the same parent company.
• Distributors of these games, i.e. Apple and Google, should consider revising their guidance as to the age requirements for these applications, as present advice is confusing.
• some sectors of the industry seem to view less than totally responsible approach in unregulated areas as unproblematic. Failure of the industry to ensure exemplary behaviour from its members may lead to the imposition of greater restrictions on marketing communication for all members of the industry