Farmville is putting a realistic spin on its virtual farm. This is a game, as intensely popular as it is, I just don’t get. And frankly, I don’t think I could get started on it because I’d probably get addicted to it, just like everyone else. Click through to read the full article on nytimes.com.
To date, I haven’t seen any true brand integration or product placement into Farmville. Next week, that changes. Cascadian Farm, which is a subsidiary of General Mills, will allow players to plant a virtual organic blueberry crop. This is a really smart marketing play. For Cascadian Farm, they get their target demo (60% of Farmville players are women) and the opportunity to increase their brand messaging and awareness. For Farmville, this opens up a whole new integration and potential revenue stream. Sponsored crops, goods, materials, tools, and more could eventually become part of the Farmville inventory. You could even have sponsored clothing!
The question is, when is brand integration too much? In our social media world, is there a line when there’s too much product placement, brand wrapping, skinning, widgets, apps, etc.? I think there is a fine line between integration and obtrusiveness that is ever-changing. For example, the recent Best Buy/Despicable Me promotion of their “Movie Mode” app, albeit being all over the internet, never felt like it was interfering with my internet experience. With a consistent brand message/feel, Despicable Me took over roadblocks, page skins, and standard IAB inventory, and merged nicely with the whole web browsing experience.