Backstab for fun and prizes

Marketing Magazine, October 22, 2001--If peer-to-peer games -- where a player competes with thousands of others online -- take off, the product placement opportunities for marketers could rival that of Hollywood movies. At least that's the marketing thrust behind a new peer-to-peer advergame called Office-Politics, where contestants "kiss-ass, backstab, hire and fire" their way up the corporate ladder.

The "game show contest" developed by Nerdheaven, a spin-off company of Toronto-based ad agency The James Gang, has contestants–who play with characters that sport animal heads such as rats, snakes and rabbits atop human bodies–competing for big prizes. And "vices" and "virtues" are the factors used to unseat the current CEO. The game can be played by as many as 50,000 people. It also converges the Web, wireless, voice, digital TV and newspaper.

There are several product-placement opportunities. Marketers can showcase their wares in an area where contestants can "buy" merchandise. This allows players "to be seen" with the products while playing, say, driving a Ford Mustang. Marketers can also offer their products as prizes. Current sponsors are Apple Computer and Motorola.

Office-Politics previewed this fall at the ETS show in London, England, Europe's top interactive entertainment expo. "It's not like putting checkers onto the Web," says Bill James, game architect along with Franke James. "It's a game specifically for the interconnected media that creates this online community."

Copyright Marketing Magazine, 2001