Ad Apps Are Magically Delicious

Let me preface this post with the fact that I am a huge lover of media, advertising, and marketing. I am the kind of person who watches the Superbowl only to analyze the ads. In fact, I took a course in college that focused solely on that exact thing and yes I got credit for it.  I love ads.  I think they are creative and emotional necessities for products and services,  yet they are manipulative all the same.  Even so, like a lot of you, I am still amazed at how easily I can be coaxed into a decision by a good marketing and advertising strategy.

By now you would think that Hollywood and corporate America’s advertising reach could go no further, but they are still coming up with new ways to engage us and especially our children. Advertisers, the good ones, really see no road blocks to reaching you. I mean hell, albeit tacky, we have even been advertised to via bathroom stall doors for years. But the latest tactic is the mobile gaming ad app and they are damn smart to be doing this. I will say it again, mobile technology is not going away, it is not a novelty, and as I mentioned before it is going to be all this generation of children know.

Recently my three year old has become obsessed with Bigfoot. To be honest I have no idea where he came to know about Bigfoot. We live in the Pacific Northwest and we take him to the mountains, so maybe he actually saw a Sasquatch with his own eyes? The obsession is pretty intense. The same kind of obsession you see with little boys and Thomas the Train. Each night he wants to me to tell him a story about Bigfoot. When he brushes his teeth, he wants me to show him how Bigfoot would do it. When he does something wrong, it wasn’t him, it was Bigfoot.  He tells me elaborate stories about how Bigfoot lives in the mountains with the Christmas trees and that he guards a princess (me) in a castle where my husband, his brother, and our dog also live. His big feet are almost always stinky, and in his world Bigfoot is his friend.


Although I am pretty sure Sasquatch is not real, he is very real in my son’s mind. To be honest I applaud his wild imagination. I love that he thinks outside of the box beyond the toys that are marketed directly to him.  Or does he?

The only other thing my son asks about more than Bigfoot these days is my phone.  He crawls into bed each morning while I am still sleeping, and literally tries to peel my eyelids open. Once they are open he peers at me with his big blue eyes and says, “play games with mamma’s phone?”  So last week it dawned on me, we are always hearing that there is an app for everything, there must certainly be an app for Bigfoot.

A quick app store search later, I found BigFOOT by Fisher-Price. I typically don’t frequent the toy isle in big box stores since Portland has so many great independent shops for toys in my local neighborhood. So, I had no idea there was an actual toy called BigFOOT.  In fact it was one of  last year’s big toys.  But low and behold 6 months later I was downloading a game for my son that was really just one giant commercial for this ugly toy.  Within 30 seconds of playing he was hooked. The premise of the game is simple. It has a maze, a sort of Tickle-me Elmoesque BigFOOT, and some very crafty BigFOOT sighting videos.

Now I am a suspicious parent because I come from this industry, so of course I thought of all the unsuspecting parents downloading this app and how their kids would certainly have to have a BigFOOT for their own. I wagered in my mind that Fisher-Price probably didn’t spend a whole lot of time or money making this game. I bet there was a Facebook app, a YouTube tie in, and of course I noted that the mobile app was for free for download. Thinking now,  I can only imagine the number of downloads and plays on Facebook were converted to a sale for Fisher-Price. Pretty cheap advertising compared to a traditional television commercial spot right? Again a brilliant method of advertising. Give a little for free, get kids hooked through social media, and then the sales roll in. In essence it is a way of indirectly monetizing an app.

I also couldn’t help but be reminded of my own childhood. Who from my generation does not remember the onslaught of sugar cereal commercials?  Our Saturday morning cartoons were peppered with them. In fact the commercials were cartoons in and of themselves. The jingles got into our heads and we connected with the characters.  We had to have the cereal.

My siblings and I, even my dad, would insist my mom buy these cereals. Now my house was not into the whole health kick thing and so it wasn’t hard to convince my mom and we had Lucky Charms, Count Chocula, and Froot Loops abound. Not so for my neighbor and best friend growing up. We would regularly swap houses for breakfast. Me so I could enjoy healthy cereal and her so she could enjoy the sugar cereal. Legend even has it that her brother broke into our house once just to munch some of the tooth-rotting sugary goodness found at my house. The point is, if not for the commercials these types of cereals and their characters probably wouldn’t have grown to such prevalence in our stomachs and our minds.

This same philosophy is now being applied to mobile gaming apps. Just endear the kids with a mobile game, the new sugar cereal commercial of the 80’s, and they will bombard their parents for the product. You see it all over apps stores now with Rovio incorporating the movie Rio into Angry Birds and  Toy Story 3 came out with their own ad app before the movie came out. Look for this to be a big trend.  It is all about engaging the kids early to convert their desires to sales later. Same old method, different media.

I for one plan to avoid the toy isle for just a bit longer so my own little Bigfoot lover’s magical imagination can continue to thrive. I know all to well that if I walk down that isle with him, I am walking out with BigFOOT. Beside’s maybe it will be his imagination that will bring advertising to you someday.



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