7-Eleven: In-Game Ads Energize 7-Eleven’s Slurpee Campaign

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Campaign summary

Campaign summary

7-Eleven's mobile campaign used in-play and in-game advertising technology to amplify awareness of the new Slurpee Plus Guarana flavor and encourage consumers to visit 7-Eleven stores in Australia.

Strategy

Objective:

A destination driver to 7-Eleven stores in Australia, the iconic 7-Eleven Slurpee is synonymous with frozen drinks and is a well-established and long-term player in the frozen carbonated beverage (FCB) category. Every summer, to sustain brand love among its consumers, 7-Eleven makes a massive push for its Slurpee products.

This year, the brand launched a new limited-edition flavor that came with a revitalizing boost: Slurpee Plus Guarana. With the objective of increasing customer footfall to 7-Eleven stores to drive sales of Slurpee Plus Guarana, the brand launched a nationwide awareness campaign of the new flavor.

As brand knowledge revealed that Slurpee audiences are composed of both Slurpee loyalists and the younger generation, 7-Eleven decided to go beyond conventional advertising channels. To capture the attention of Slurpee fans, 7-Eleven met them in the arena where they experience maximum fun and enjoyment: the world of gaming.

To measure the impact of the campaign, the measurement metrics to be used were video completion, engagement rate, click-throughs, and footfall attribution.

Target audience:

Infused with youthful vibrant energy, 7-Eleven's bestselling Slurpee has been capturing the attention of male and female audiences aged 13 to 34 as it is a popular drink among school students and Slurpee loyalists who are always keen to try new flavors. When these consumers step into a 7-Eleven store, the act of purchasing and consuming an ice-cold cup of Slurpee is an experience: they choose their own cups, mix flavors, bang the cup to squeeze a little bit more in, and experience Slurpee refreshment.

Mobile is the main playground of this younger generation, and a good majority of them are heavily into gaming: they not only spend on games for the act of playing, but AdColony research revealed they also relish the social aspects of gaming. They usually share an image/video of their game on social media and find gaming as an activity that's better enjoyed together.

Creative strategy:

With the COVID-19 pandemic reaching the one-year mark in Australia when the campaign started, still restricting movement across the country, all eyes were trained on mobile. Expectedly, the young audience was knee-deep in gaming and the brand wanted to communicate its message with them in this ever-expanding arena.

One of the benefits of gaming as compared to other digital channels is the ability to reach consumers who use ad blockers, which does not work in gaming environments. On-disruptive real-world branding and advertisements embedded within the game, such as rewarded videos and in-game advertising, keep the brand at the top-of-mind for gamers without disrupting gameplay.

Armed with this insight, 7-Eleven's strategy was to combine in-play and in-game advertising efforts into an immersive gaming experience. For in-play advertising, users got to earn rewards after watching the Slurpee video ads. Through leveraging Anzu, the most advanced in-game advertising platform in bringing real-world brand ads directly into games, in-game ads were embedded within the gaming environment, which amplified brand ad recall through retargeting within the game environment without distracting gamers.

Context:

7-Eleven knew that digital is where younger audiences interact. The brand always markets Slurpee online, across social media and YouTube, with larger campaigns deploying small format out-of-home (OOH) ads in areas close to 7-Eleven stores nationwide.

Keen to explore a new frontier of mobile ad technology, 7-Eleven took its traditional billboards and posters from the real world into the virtual world — utilizing both video and display in-game advertising to promote brand recall in a subtle, unobtrusive way.

Execution

Overall campaign execution:

Broadly targeting young gamers ages 13 to 34 years old, 7-Eleven's Slurpee Plus Guarana campaign launched nationwide, spanning traditional and innovative digital media channels. Of the total media budget, 10 percent was allocated to mobile.

The mobile campaign was designed to amplify awareness of the new Slurpee Plus Guarana flavor and encourage consumers to visit 7-Eleven stores by utilizing both in-play and in-game advertising technology. Rewarded video ads were deployed across gaming apps to boost brand awareness, with a Learn More overlay button to lead users to the 7-Eleven website to find out more. While users play their games, 7-Eleven wanted to inject subtle brand recall with Slurpee Plus Guarana in the gaming environment without taking gamers' attention away from gameplay.

Mobile execution:

7-Eleven understood that when it comes to advertising within the gaming environment, its young target audience would be more receptive when 1) the ads enhance their enjoyment of the game and 2) the ad units do not interfere with gameplay.

To achieve this, 7-Eleven dished out a combo of in-play and in-game advertising technologies. Instant play HD video and display ads of the electrifying Slurpee Plus Guarana would appear mid-game, offering rewards upon completion of the videos. A Learn More overlay button was embedded onto the video ad for gamers to go to the 7-Eleven website and learn more about the new Slurpee flavor. In addition to in-play advertising, 7-Eleven took it one step further by tapping on Anzu's in-game advertising technology, and embedded virtual Slurpee Plus Guarana video and display ads onto virtual digital out-of-home billboards in top mobile games like Gravity Rider Zero. This not only further amplified brand recall, but enhanced the realism of the virtual world and the players' enjoyment of the game without interfering with the immersive game experience.

Business impact (including context, evaluation, and market impact)

One of the world's most popular frozen drinks, the iconic Slurpee enjoys high levels of brand love in Australia. As a brand integral to 7-Eleven, the Slurpee has enjoyed healthy sales throughout the years.

However, not one to rest on its success, 7-Eleven continues to innovate and promote Slurpee during the summer months by introducing new flavors or stirring up buzz, often within close proximity to its stores. This year, with the COVID-19 pandemic making in-store marketing impossible, 7-Eleven harnessed the power of Anzu in-game technology for the first time to connect with young target audiences within the gaming environment.

Thanks to a combination of in-play and in-game advertising technology, 7-Eleven's Slurpee Plus Guarana campaign reached figures that outperformed industry benchmarks. In-play video completion rate was at 94.76 percent (industry benchmark: 85 percent), with 97 percent viewability. The campaign reached a total of over 1 million unique users with high reach efficiency of a cost per completed view (CPCV) of $0.020 (industry benchmark: $0.035).

In-game video and display ads were Slurpee Plus Guarana's winning ingredients: they not only significantly delivered on footfall at 173.8 percent but brought the cost per visit down to $0.19 for every user who went to visit the store.

Such impressive results signaled to other brands that consumer eyeballs are trained and undistracted on mobile games, and in-game advertising is a highly effective platform to boost brand visibility in the gaming environment to consumers without any required interaction from consumers.

Deviating from its tried-and-tested social and in-store marketing communication strategy, 7-Eleven's bold move to leverage both in-play and in-game advertising innovations paid off for Slurpee.

The post-campaign Brand Lift Study revealed that consumers who were exposed to the campaign increased top-of-mind and total spontaneous awareness for Slurpee by 86 percent. The campaign was particularly effective at raising spontaneous awareness among the older age group (ages 26 and over), with exposure to the campaign significantly uplifting awareness by more than 200 percent.

More importantly, exposure to the campaign not only uplifted awareness, brand consideration, and purchase intent by three, six, and two points, respectively, but it also elevated 7-Eleven as a place that sells frozen drinks to the same level as its toughest contender, McDonald's.

This campaign was awarded bronze at the MMA X Smarties Awards.