Come-Ons from Kate Upton Make Mobile Video Game Sales Go Up: Is TV More Competitive than Once Thought?

Come-Ons from Kate Upton Make Mobile Video Game Sales Go Up Is TV More Competitive than Once ThoughtIt’s not news that curvaceous cuties have been enlisted for decades to sell everything from spark plugs to shaving cream. What IS news is that the same strategy is being used to sell a mobile video game — and on TV no less.

The details are in an enlightening piece by Paresh Dave in the LA Times.

“For millions of TV viewers, the sight of model Kate Upton and her lush curves remains inescapable,” Paresh writes. “More than 9,000 times since November, commercials featuring the swimsuit model have aired nationally on male-oriented programs: March Madness, NFL football, “South Park,” and the like.

The free play smartphone “Game of War: Fire Age” is being peddled to men and boys via commercials that are suggestive and — as it turns out — amazingly effective.

“The boys and men have (download the game), beyond the wildest dreams of Machine Zone, the game developer behind Game of War,” according to Paresh. “Sales of in-app digital goods and paid “boosts” to speed up empire-building have doubled since the ads began, according to data from Think Gaming; the game now takes in about $1 million a day.”

Another trump: the Upton gambit worked so well that “in February “Game of War” briefly sneaked past the immensely popular “Clash of Clans” as the top mobile game, ranked by revenue.”

That’s a big deal.

“That was a huge achievement,” said Tero Kuittinen, managing director at media research firm Frank N. Magid Associates. “Clash of Clans had looked invulnerable, but Kate Upton has been able to breach the walls.”

What’s piquing marketer interest — besides Kate Upton, of course — is the use of television ads for promotion usually reserved for social media sites and other purely digital campaigns.

“Until recently, almost nobody in the industry thought a TV ad campaign for a mobile game would be worth the cost,” says Paresh. “Only a tiny segment of a broad TV audience would download a mobile game, much less spend their money on in-app purchases. The initial success of “Game of War” and others is changing minds.”

Turns out television can work.

“A big burst of downloads following, say, a TV ad campaign causes the app to rise to the top of the charts in app stores on Android and Apple phones,” explains Paresh. “That makes it highly visible to millions of shoppers who wouldn’t have noticed it before. That means even more downloads, pushing it further up the charts.”

The inspiration to advertise mobile apps on television started in Japan, but could take up more U.S. TV time soon. For instance, SGN has budgeted $10 million for television spots (and outdoor ads) for its hit matching game “Cookie Jam” and another $10 million for other titles.

Interestingly, as the cost of advertising on Facebook and other hot social media sites rise, TV is looking more and more affordable — with or without Kate Upton.