April 24th, 2008

Burger King Brands Subscription Mobile Games

PROMO Magazine

Burger King is extending into casual mobile games with the launch of “BK City,” a set of handset games that users can download for a monthly subscription fee of $2.99.

The games, developed in partnership with Seattle-based licensee Mobliss, offer a multi-level series of challenges in several virtual worlds. Players complete puzzles and skill games to earn a place in the Burger King’s court, completing tasks such as remembering how to make a Whopper, squirting ketchup while racing through a BK outlet, the King’s mansion and a goal called BK City.

Users can access the games by texting “KING” to a short code, 90210—apparently chosen for its memory value, not for any association to the Aaron Spelling TV show. Mobliss distributes content to a number of national wireless carriers, including Sprint, AT&T, U.S. Cellular, Verizon, Alltel and T-Mobile.

Burger King will promote the games through in-restaurant signage and packaging.

“We are dedicated to constantly evolving our mobile platform to provide original and creative programs that reflect the Burger King brand, engage our guests and offer value for the money,” said Brian Gies, Burger King vice president of marketing impact, in a statement. “The games offer a chance to engage with the King in a new way, and we’re confident that ‘BK City’ offers a gaming world unlike any other available to mobile users today.”

The quick-service chain has a history of in-game advertising that includes both ads in third-party games and content designed specifically for Burger King. The chain has placed ads in existing games such as “Need for Speed” and “NFL Street.” In November 2006, it also launched three new branded games for the Xbox platform: “Pocketbike Racer,” “Big Bumpin,” and “Sneak King,” each selling for $3.99. The fast food chain manufactured about 5 million copies of the video games.

Integrating the brand into new game content is a more difficult branding move than piggybacking on an already-popular game. But in announcing the deal with Mobliss last October, Burger King said the promotional rewards can be greater from original content.

“Anyone can buy advertising space in gaming,” said Russ Klein, Burger King president of global marketing, strategy and innovation, in a statement at the time. “Our vision is to be successful in generating original content that is relevant to our consumer. Content-generated share of voice wins hearts and commands attention in an overcrowded medium.”

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