Bandai Namco says it tackled brand awareness issues by bringing its games to life with AR

Gamers were given the chance to get their hair professionally styled into one of their characters’ iconic looks.

To help gamers make the connection between the games it produces and its brand as the game publisher, Bandai Namco Entertainment, the makers of Pac-Man and Tekken, launched its first-ever brand campaign in Asia Pacific in October.

The campaign, named the ‘Who Will You Be Today?’ and created by VMLY&R, featured an interactive video asking consumers who they want to become through the power of video games. Consumers were then invited to participate in a series of Easter Egg contests for a chance to win prizes.

The video tied into offline activations that spanned three weekends in Bangkok, Hong Kong, and Seoul. Gamers were given the chance to get their hair professionally styled into one of their characters’ iconic looks, in order to transform into their favorite character in real life.

This was done to help gamers draw a link between their favorite titles and the BNE brand, Joaquim Laurel, the creative director at VMLY&R Singapore tells The Drum, as for most gamers, playing their favorite game is a truly immersive experience. Gamers also often feel like they are transported into the game or find themselves relating to certain characters.

He adds the approach was a perfect fit with BNE’s brand because it was all about creating an enjoyable experience, which is engaging gamers to actively be a part of the BNE universe in an interactive and fun way.

“We wanted to tap on this immersive feeling, and thereby drew inspiration from something that made each title memorable and easily identifiable – the hairstyles and headgear of iconic BNE characters,” Laurel explains. “This allowed us to maintain the distinction and value of each character, and at the same time, offered some flexibility when bringing them all together under a creative format.

VMLY&R started the creative process with the story and message it wanted to convey, which is the ability to become any character in the games once players picked up their controllers and decided to play. The promise of an experiential encounter led the thinking and guided the agency’s decision-making when it came to choosing a format to showcase different titles under one brand. It also explored various creative angles until it finally arrived at ‘Who Will You Be Today?’.

“We then went through the process of identifying the hair and mask platform, and the right characters to use. From there, we expanded on the concepts, ideating from relevant channels and executions, with the intention of bringing the concept to life,” adds Laurel.

The agency also worked with an augmented reality developer to create an AR filter, which was then rolled out on the BNE’s Facebook page, allowing gamers to easily try out the hairstyles of their favorite characters and experience the transformation first-hand.

This is again, in line with the BNE brand, as it is well known among consumers for creating games set in different, unique fantasy universes, according to Laurel. That is why the agency wanted to have that reflected in the campaign by giving consumers the ability to transform into their favorite characters, not only in the gaming realm but in real-life too.

“That led us to the thought of AR filters through FB lenses as a powerful channel. The filters enable users to toggle between different BNE game titles and their key characters, allowing them to discover that all these games and characters fall under a single brand and publisher – Bandai Namco Entertainment,” he says.

One of the major challenges, that VMLY&R faced when creating the campaign, was that while most of the titles were all popular, most gamers were not connecting all the various games together under one brand. As the titles are all from different franchises, presenting them together under a single creative concept was also a challenge for the agency.

“We overcame this by establishing a consistent theme that allowed us to represent characters from all the games – hairstyles and headgear,” says Laurel. “Through this approach, we were able to successfully unite the game titles into a single campaign without compromising the integrity of their individual branding or of Bandai Namco Entertainment.”

The campaign video has been viewed nearly 74,000 times, with over 212 shares and 900 reactions.

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