In Game Ads Get Interesting

Ordinarily, when a PR company contacts us and says “hey, you might want to talk about this” we usually don’t. Don’t get me wrong, they’re only doing their job, trying to get the word out and we appreciate that. It’s just that we always try to only write about things we think you guys will be interested in, rather than trying to sell you things for other people.

This afternoon, though, I got one of those emails from a PR guy (hello, Matt!) and it actually contained something that I thought was pretty interesting and might spark a bit of discussion. Please don’t feel obligated to buy the product I’m about to mention, although I’m sure our PR friend would appreciate it. It’s also interesting to note that our very own Tuffcub deals in the gas used to expel it so you’d be keeping him in exorbitant annual bonuses too.


Lynx, they of the often overused smelly sprays, have regularly been involved with ad campaigns which are targeted at gamers. They seem to be on the Xbox 360 dashboard every few weeks. This initiative, though, is slightly more imaginative than flashing Kelly Brook’s most endearing qualities and trying to get us to spray more. Although, thankfully, Kelly Brook does still feature.

Lynx have arranged to have their adverts displayed in a number of games, including the pictured Fight Night Champion and Need for Speed (we assume it’s Shift 2). That’s nothing new, dynamic in game advertising has become one of the features of this generation of connected consoles.

The interesting part is that those adverts are set to feature QR codes for the first time. These futuristic barcodes can be read with special scanners available as apps for smartphones and will direct the user to more content such as website URLs or relevant phone numbers.

We assume they’re expecting us to pause replays and hold our phones up to the screen to scan, something which you might think sounds oddly ridiculous. I probably would have agreed with you a week ago but this weekend I found myself standing in front of a surprisingly warm LCD screen trying to scan a QR code off a wall in Homefront. It took me to a complicated series of region select and age gates on the game’s official website and I quickly closed it down. So, perhaps I’m the odd one (I think that goes without saying) but perhaps I’ve anecdotally proven that this stuff works so using it for advertising seems like a sound idea.

More important than getting the codes into games, though, is the result of scanning in those codes. If we’re simply taken to a marketing portal I think that gamers will soon get tired of them and learn to ignore them. If the codes take us to opportunities for in-game tie in content and relevant information though, well, that’s a very interesting prospect and one which creative marketers might already be exploring.



  1. Used once, never again but what if it was used on something like Invizimals!?

  2. Oh, I had no clue which ads you were talking about at first. But it seems that LYNX is actually AXE over here.
    It sounds like some good idea though. But I’d say that putting these code in games for additional information sounds like something that would work with a DS, but not with a PS3 of 360. I mgith be wrong though.

    • To be clear, the adverts are in-game so you hold your smartphone up to the screen to read them. I assume a QR scanner could easily be added to the DSi and later models to allow scanning QR codes though, if it’s not already?

    • Yeah, I was confused too. Last time I went to the USA I saw it in a supermarket and thought it was a well made rip-off… :D

  3. Good to see companies recognising gaming as a new marketing outlet and it is pretty neat, but a bit of a fad I think. People will think its good at first then soon they will get annoyed at it if its to intrustive. I would personally like them not to use ads in games – leave it to the other marketing outlets. Would be good if they can use them to add little easter eggs into games and other bit of information though. For example you find a QR code in a game and it sends you to a web page where it gives you a unique code to download a theme or avatar, ect.

  4. I don’t mind real ads in games when they make the game world seem more realistic, but I’d never want ads all over menu screens etc.

    As for this idea – my phone is basic PAYG K750i, and it doesn’t ‘do’ QR codes. I also have no intention of changing it any time soon, as I only want a mobile for calls and texts.

    That said, even if I did have a smartphone, I wouldn’t make use of this. In fact, I don’t think I’d ever bother going any further than typing a web address into my browser.

  5. Yep, like we need more advertising on our tvs.

  6. I saw the words ‘Kelly Brook’ and nothing else.

  7. Done in a subtle manner it adds to the realism, look at The Gateaway for example, all the flashing ads and sight seeing style iconic advertisements in that game were cool beans…..

  8. i’ve seen those patterns you have to scan in quite a few places now, but i don’t have a smart phone that reads them so never paid much attention to em.
    they just provide links to websites don’t they?

    anyway, interesting use for them, so long as they don’t start getting too intrusive, like keeping the ad on screen longer.
    though if those pictures are a sign of how they’re going to do it then that is pretty well done, plainly visible but not intrusive.

  9. Its not the first time this has happened in a fight night game, burger king anyone?

    • DJ Hero is plastered in a certain fizzy drink.

  10. I doubt I’d bother to stop and scan the QR code unless it was likely to enhance the game, giving me some kind of unlock code or something.
    If adverts are placed in game like they are in real life (billboards, TVs in the game world, on the radio) then they actually enhance the game making it feel more real.

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