Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Cup of Plenty: Sonic Uses Online Games as Advertising Tool

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Cup of Plenty: Sonic Uses Online Games as Advertising Tool

Article excerpt

Video game advertising, or "advergaming," is a relatively new animal in Internet marketing, and Sonic America's Drive-In has discovered its popularity with Luck of the Straw, an online game that showcases the multitude of drink combinations offered.

Also, Sonic has maketjdrink.com, which uses the stars of its commercials in a similar game developed by Barkley Evergreen & Partners Inc. It, too, has been popular, said Todd Townsend, vice president and chief marketing officer of Sonic.

Blockdot of Dallas produced Luck of the Straw, which has been a hit on its Kewlbox.com Web site.

"Sonic hired us to produce a campaign for Luck of the Straw; we do quite a bit of this," said Dan Ferguson, director of game development and founder of Blockdot. "The game has been played 750,000 times, and it's been out two or three weeks."

The game has followed an in-store promotion and showcases 168,894 different drink combinations. Players test their flavor-making skills and use a straw shooter to pump flavor bubbles into their online drink.

Kewlbox.com, which Ferguson said is among the top 25 game sites on the Internet, generates about 250,000 total game hits per day, and a good portion recently has been through Luck of the Straw.

"It's another part of the marketing mix," Ferguson said.

Games have been popular advertising tools simply because of the time invested by the players.

"Online marketing and advergaming is not passive, and it's more effective than a banner ad," Ferguson said. "Advergaming is really gaining ground. A banner may have a quarter- or half-percent hit rate. …

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