LOS ANGELES Clients looking for the elusive young male are following them to where they play, at college campuses and malls, said Antonio Capretta, president of Game Live Events.
The Sausalito, Calif.-based company tours with a 50-screen kiosk of consoles to attract game samplers at venues such as the Mission Valley, Glendale Galleria and Ontario Mills malls in California.
"We had our biggest year ever," said Capretta, whose company is in its third year. Some 75,000 gamers, averaging 21 years old, sampled the wares of Electronic Arts, Rockstar, Ubisoft and Midway and participated in the EA Madden Challenge tournament, he said.
Game Live is among the companies that forged an alliance with New York marketing specialists Navigame to bring in corporate sponsors such as Nokia, Procter & Gamble (for Old Spice Red Zone) and the U.S. Army. "Malls have become the 'town centers' of the United States," said Capretta, who said he expects the number of game tour events next year to swell from 100 to 130.
Andrew Klein, president of Navigame, also has arranged X-box-sponsored game nights at Southern California music venues like the House of Blues and in unlikely locations such as Best Buy parking lots. "There are a bazillion opportunities," said Klein, "but the large majority of consumer brands don't have a clue about how to make a deal in the gaming space. We're positioning consumer brands to get in the game."
Klein said the advantage of Navigame over agency units set up to put their clients into games is its independence. "We're into all things gaming, including in-game, online, promotions and event marketing," he said. "And since we're not owned by an advertising conglomerate, we're agnostic. In fact, a couple of agencies have been looking to private label us."
Klein said Navigame has the "knowledge base" to promote brands through complex buys that intermix traditional media with novel ideas. "Some clients want their media buying company or agency to do this work for them, but they don't have the specialized knowledge in-house," said Klein, who compared the gaming business to a sports- or music-marketing specialty.
Clients are increasingly considering game marketing events such as Game Live because of numbers comparable to major movie openings, Klein said. "Marketers are going to have to look at gaming as an aggregated platform," he said.