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video games amplify marketing and messaging targeted at gen zs

Gaming has become much, much more than just a way for Zs to pass the time: it serves important emotional and psychological purposes, especially for young male gamers. Back in 2017, we found that the top benefit games provided Zs was relaxation, cited by 36% of U.S. Zs and 30% of UK Zs, including 42% and 35% of boys, respectively. Just under a third also considered gaming to be an escape from daily life and a transportive experience, and about a quarter thought of it as important to their social life. All of these factors, crucial to these teens before, take on critical importance amid the pandemic, recasting the following forays into gaming as not only smart, but essential for brands (and lately, politicians!) that target this demographic.


Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (colloquially known as AOC) tapped into a serious Gen Z passion point by playing the streaming game Among Us, the most-watched and one of the most played games on Twitch. When all was said and done, the congresswoman had been streaming for three and a half hours (alongside fellow Twitch streamers Pokimane and Hasanabi, and later her colleague Rep. Ilhan Omar), and the stream itself peaked at 439,000 views, “making it the third-highest-viewed single stream in Twitch history.” But this wasn’t all fun and games: AOC used her time and viewers’ attention to get out the vote, smartly delivering a critical message to a young and savvy cohort in a highly-entertaining format.


Candy brand Trolli just debuted Deliciously Dark Escape, a video game created in collaboration with Active Theory. Players need to first purchase Trolli gummy worms, driving sales of Trolli’s product, and scan a QR code found on the packaging to access the game, which is otherwise housed on a hidden website. This unlocks not only the game, but also a Trolli Dynamic Theme for PS4 and a 14-day PlayStation Plus trial. Once they gain access, players must protect their gummy avatar as it dodges a variety of obstacles.


Animal Crossing is proving a fertile ground for activations from brands and political parties alike, and Gillette Venus is the latest to tap into the popular game. To spread awareness of its “My Skin. My Way” campaign, the razor brand created a set of inclusive avatar skin design options encompassing eight skin tones and 19 skin types, which can ultimately be combined in over 250 different ways. The brand also hosted a YouTube Live event called the Animal Crossing ‘Skinclusive Summer Social’ to generate cross-platform buzz around the offering and bring fans together during a summer transformed by social distancing.