The Drum Awards Festival - Extended Deadline

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By Chris Sutcliffe, Senior reporter

June 3, 2022 | 5 min read

To make its electric revolution, the car brand Dacia bet on gaming and Rocket League thanks to a creative idea from Weber Shandwick Paris, who worked with Swipe Back. The Drum questions how the move impacted sales and brand awareness.

Gaming audiences demand authenticity. Brands that fail to appropriately speak to their interests are guaranteed to fail. As a result many brands are choosing to partner with gaming-specialist agencies and consultancies to find ways to insert themselves into the gaming space without being interruptive or irrelevant.

Dacia spotted an opportunity to do just that with the esports title Rocket League. A competitive multiplayer title best described as ‘car football with rocket boosts,’ the title is a free-to-play mainstay of the esports scene with over 40 million players. Since players are able to design their vehicles in any number of ways, it makes sense that Dacia would want to align its new range of electric vehicles with a player base that is demonstrably interested in car customization.

Arnaud Robin is head of gaming for Swipe Back; he explains how the synergy between the Dacia brand and the Rocket League platform made it a natural fit.

“We wanted players to change their [in-game vehicles] to electric cars and participate in tournaments. And what was actually really good about this tournament is that it was, again, open to everyone. And that was really something very important for the brand since the brand itself is actually very, very accessible in terms of pricing. So the tournament was open to everyone and that was phase one of our campaign.”

Beyond the tournament, Swipe Back also collaborated with gamers and designers in the creation of an interactive map 100 times larger than any map previously created on Rocket League before.

The Dacia Spring Electric Challenge Map was created to mark the anniversary of Dacia’s electric vehicle, the Spring. Between the agency and the streamers with whom they partnered, the team built an entire city with suburbs, which was 100 times larger than any map that had been created on Rocket League previously.

Robin explains that, in order to ensure the community was at the forefront of the campaign, it was vital to partner with streamers such as Lethamyr – who has over 1.4 million followers – and game designer Gidek.

“You have creators, people who are able to create maps [or] shows within games, or role-play within games that already exist. And as a brand it’s great to give these people a platform to show their art. It works for creators, it works for influencers. That’s what’s great about the community. And I would say the community even comes first when you create a campaign within a game like Rocket League.”

To that end, the team created a training map that was a creative work in its own right, while also highlighting the Dacia brand’s ethos surrounding its electric vehicle range. The collaboration could have simply been the purchase of an ad slot within the game, or even releasing the Dacia model as a playable vehicle. Instead, the work took the community aspect to heart.

Despite the success of the campaign and others like it, Robin believes there is still work that needs to be done to educate brands about the opportunities at the intersection of gaming and marketing. “I think there’s a lot of education needed too. The thing with gaming is that there are so many games out there; obviously everyone knows Fortnite, and everyone knows Minecraft. Everyone knows Roblox nowadays because that’s where brands go naturally because they have this kind of platform style that makes it easy for brands to create experiences in it.

“But there are so many other games. Rocket League is not the obvious choice for a brand when they want to do something in gaming. But we were quite passionate about this. And so that’s why we tried to find the best way to make an experience in the game.”

As branded experiences in games have come to the fore, there is opportunity for brands to identify where there is crossover between their customer base and the gaming demographic. For gaming platforms with passionate audiences such as Rocket League, brand awareness is the name of the game – with huge potential uplift when it is done authentically.

For more on all the different ways brands can advertise in gaming, from virtual billboards to product placements, social lenses and even games of their own, check out The Drum’s Gaming Advertising Deep Dive.

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