TV ads - and why we still make them
Buy our games! Buy our games! Once we get a product on to the shelves, we’re kind of keen that people might want to buy it.
We’re in a bit of a fortunate position here. Firstly, we’ve built up a bit of a reputation over the years *coughs modestly* and people do associate the Drumond Park name with a quality product that they might like to try (or that they’d be proud to give as a gift). We have the best packaging design people in the industry, so the boxed-up games always look great. And – crucially – we are unbelievably tough on ourselves when it comes to conceptualising, and only let through those ideas that will truly spark an involuntary ‘yes! That’s the one!’ reaction from the casual browser.
And, of course, we do marketing and advertising. We have a website; we’re known for a history of innovative online gizmos; we write this; we attend fairs; we have a great team in the world of PR dealing with journalists and bloggers.
Plus we advertise on the television. Call us old fashioned.
Claire, our boss, isn’t in the habit of throwing money around willy-nilly, but she’s a huge evangelist of TV advertising. Mainly because it really works for us. In a recent chat, she referred to it as ‘the biggest game in town,’ and we know that lots of our retail partners agree. Then she narrowed her eyes and hissed ‘but it’s been getting verrrrrry expensive this autumn,’ and shot an accusing glance at the Rugby World Cup calendar on the wall. We’re hoping that this is a bit of temporary inflation, as we don’t have the budgets of the billionaire brewers or multinational car-makers or even amusing talking meerkats.
Only recently, TV advertising was meant to be on its way out; a scattergun medium for another age when everything was going all new and webby. How does the old ad-man’s quote go? ‘I know half my advertising budget is wasted – I just don’t know which half!’ Well, it’s pretty plain that we’re talking about the useful half when you pull out a newish game from your briefcase and the chorus of children that you’ve assembled for a photoshoot all exclaim: ‘I saw that on TV!’
With those kids’ games it can be quite easy for us. They’re great, distinctive products; they’re visually exciting and come with immediately-graspable concepts. So our ads can be very straightforward: we focus on the product itself, and show kids having bags of fun with it. (And believe us, this is very genuine – recording these things is a hoot).
The adult games can be more of a challenge. Very few adults tend to see a shot of (e.g.) a board and some counters and cry ‘OMG OMG THAT IS COOL I REALLY WANT ONE OF THOSE!!!!’ So we have to work a bit harder to capture the ‘character’ of the game and why it will be so enjoyable.
TV was important when we first launched Best of British, for example. We knew we had a great product from the brilliant feedback we’d had in advance of general release, but a few of these responses had expressed a note of relief that a game called ‘Best of British’ wasn’t about historic houses and the dynastic sequence of the Tudor monarchy. Consequently, we made a TV ad that starred animated garden gnomes waxing lyrical about ice cream vans, fish and chips and lollipop ladies. Conversely, when we were producing ads for Shout, we felt that we needed to show the game in context, to get across to people the whole ‘shout concept’ and why it’s so different and fun.
Articulate’s ‘Shark’ ad is probably the one that people most remember. In a twenty second burst, we had to get across the concept of the game, its knockabout humour, and that escalating, gabbling frenzy as the timer runs down. No board shots, no voiceover explanations, just a couple and an angry fish. To the best of our knowledge, we were the first board game people to do this sort of television advertising – and that’s probably a good excuse to show it again here.
Honestly, you would not believe the paperwork involved in gaining permission to release a real Great White Shark just off the beach in Malibu. You can have a trawl through our other TV ads on our YouTube channel here or read more insider stuff about making Britain’s best board games.