Social media is rife with mockery and topical quips of any and everything out in the world. Why? Everyone enjoys a good laugh. Even better, everyone loves to be the reason why the laugh happened. And one Polish video game developer found a way to turn a laugh into a marketing success.
Techland has been making video games for the past 25 years. They’re a seasoned player in their industry; they’ve seen countless ways of advertising video games. One popular form of advertising with notable, mainstream video games is cross promotions with large soft drink companies: be it Call of Duty and Mountain Dew for more multiplayer experience, special in-game items for EA games under the cap of a Dr. Pepper, or last year’s combination of Red Bull and Destiny. That last example drew scrutiny from the public and press.
The energy drink gated the game’s content. You gained access to an “epic, new quest” on top of an experience increase for 30 minutes of game play. On top of that promotion, the creators of Destiny, Bungie, faced harsh criticism for the pricing of their 2015 expansion of The Taken King. Bungie was not in good graces, and the announcement of a partnership with Red Bull ruffled feathers.
Techland saw this as a strategic marketing opportunity. On June 24 2015, Techland tweeted their campaign to drive liquid consumption. “Real King of Hydration” was the name (mocking the Destiny expansion of The Taken King), and “#DrinkRightDyingLight” was the anchoring Twitter hashtag. It mirrored Destiny’s ad copy design, with the product in front of a black background and promises of exclusive content and increased experience. But Techland didn’t partner with any soft drink company or organization—the drink was water.
The developer struck at the absurdity of cross promotions like Destiny’s as well as indirectly advertising their first-person action platformer of Dying Light. Collectively, Twitter users had to tweet pictures of themselves (or pets) drinking water with the “DrinkForDLC” hashtag in the tweet. There were five goals to reach ranging from 5,000 tweets to 50,000 tweets, and each goal unlocked free content for Dying Light at a later date.
People had a ton of fun with it. It made Twitter users engaged in a collective goal as they posted humorous photos. Some simply used bottled water; some posed with their pet’s watering bowl; some used a hose; some grabbed a water cooler; and some dumped water on their face. The Dying Light Twitter account was very active and responsive to users participating: retweets of photos, kind responses to users, and quick updates on the campaign. On social media, most users want to be seen and have that validation of being funny. This campaign fed that desire greatly. Participants went out of their way to create funny tweets of themselves with water. All that said, what was the result of this campaign?
A brilliant display of strategic marketing and market insight was the result.
A reported 15,000-plus photos and videos of people drinking water as the “#DrinkForDLC” hashtag reached over 15 million people and trended on Twitter – a huge surge in awareness for a game that had already been released months ago. No glossy trailers, TV advertisements, or celebrity endorsements. Just a tweet mocking an ad campaign.
Months later, Techland fulfilled its promise of free content for Dying Light. On February 9, three content packs will be released despite the campaign not hitting the 35,000-tweet mark. The tweet mark didn’t matter because Techland wanted to make good on the community’s loud response.
This is why knowing your audience is so important. There are emotional connections to the products and services we prefer. If your audience is a bunch of goofballs, indulge in the silliness and facilitate it.