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Did someone say the C-word?

By Cari Kirby, Marketing manager for branded games studio

Peek & Poke


The Drum Network article

This content is produced by The Drum Network, a paid-for membership club for CEOs and their agencies who want to share their expertise and grow their business.

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September 22, 2020 | 5 min read

No, not that one, or the C-19 variety either. I mean the BIG one, that comes with tinsel and trees and swathes of red, white and green.

christmas gaming

I know it’s a little early but this year, more than ever, we need to be prepared for Christmas.

I don’t mean personally – although there is a distant jangling of bells in the back of my brain that’s making me twitchy.

We’ve heard of a few brands that are opening the war chests this year, seeking to capitalize on share of voice and market share after the pandemic. And the run-up to Christmas will be a top priority.

While no doubt we’ll see our fair share of slowed down pop songs and emotive five-minute ads about family and community overcoming hardships together (and then have the camera pan to product that was there to help) this won’t be enough.

Engage and interact

Now is not the time for virtue signalling – people see right through a lack of authenticity. Now is the time to foster positive connections for a post-coronavirus world.

It’s time to engage, converse and interact with your core audience, making sure that you build genuine connections and loyalty.

And please, let’s have some fun too!

Let’s start playing

How many articles did you read about games and marketing gamification during lockdown? Yeah me too.

But there’s a reason for that – games played a massive part in keeping us connected and entertained, and brands were quick to understand and harness their power.

Large high-fashion brands such as Valentino and Marc Jacobs through to the NFL and KFC, all invested in in-game advertising, esports, gaming partnerships and branded games alike.

Christmas will be no different, as brands look for a way to engage and interact with audiences in a way their audience can relate to.

No war chest? No problem

Games and gamification aren’t just for the big brands. Here are some tactics that don’t require a deep war chest:

White label games

The benefit of seasonal marketing is that a white label product will already be themed and Christmasified ready for you to simply add your logo and message.

There are developers out there that can offer this service for less than £1k. Make sure you can play a full demo before you invest and that the game is fun to play across all devices.


The most fundamental elements of gamification are progress, achievements and competition! A leaderboard will help to keep those competitive spirits alive and help players track their progress – an important element in why we play and one of the main reasons games give us the ‘good feels’.

Unlocking achievements

Take it one step further by unlocking hidden items or levels which in turn deliver promo codes or special offers to the players that achieve them.

If we are achieving something our brain rewards us with a dopamine hit, which helps create that “just one more time” feeling, racking up brand engagement and ROI in the process.

Prizes and giveaways

Don’t underestimate the power of a prize or giveaway. A branded game might be good but it’s still a marketing tool – give people a reason to interact by offering a prize draw at the end of the campaign.

Digital advent calendars

Connect with your audience on a daily basis in the run-up to Christmas by rolling out an interactive digital advent calendar. Link the calendar up to your game to keep people coming back for more, engaging with your brand in an attempt to win each day’s prize.

Wrapping up

So it’s clear that gamification and branded games are a feasible option for all types of brands, both in B2C or B2B. However – it’s not witchcraft or wizardry, nor is it a magic bullet.

Games, like every other tactic in your marketing arsenal, should be rooted in your strategy and what you’re trying to achieve. Used tactically, gamification is a powerful engagement tool that can help you smash Christmas campaign targets.

Make sure to speak to a games developer about what your objectives are first, and let them help you work out the best mechanics for your game campaign.

Let’s have some fun and wave 2020 a big fat goodbye in style!

Cari Kirby, marketing manager for branded games studio, Peek & Poke


Content by The Drum Network member:

Peek & Poke

Here at Peek & Poke we specialise in branded, white label games to help you engage your audience.

We nurture positive connections through our proven branded...

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