Exploring 'Animal Crossing: New Horizons' for Engagement

There’s certainly a new environment or rather ‘new horizons’ for engagement in the industry.

The video game audience represents a large population of users, one that is not only tech savvy but marketing savvy as well.

The pandemic has shown that there is a fine line marketers should walk when it comes to retention and acquisition. Brands have to align with consumer interests and how they can tell their story authentically without changing their core mission, vision and values.

Once relying heavily on live and experiential marketing campaigns, marketers are now turning to virtual activations through video games in hopes of replicating that success. Brands have now seemingly embraced in-game advertising as a way to activate.

The Animal Crossing title on the Nintendo platform has emerged as an intriguing medium this year for not only gamers but also marketers looking to make a splash with the next generation.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons is a social simulation video game notable for its open ended gameplay. With no end in addition to following a real time clock and calendar, players can carry out activities such as fishing, gardening, building and customizing their homes while interacting with friends. The work in-game offers both a gentle progression with tasks, seasonal surprises and a universal appeal to families, millennials and young audiences.

To date, New Horizons has already provided brands an opportunity to activate that seamlessly integrates in-game as part of optional objectives and regular gameplay.

For example, as part of their in-home customization and apparel line, Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) offered familiar branded items to Canadian players as part of their wardrobe or their in-home decorations. HBC has since gauged interest of the brand’s presence in-game from social posts.

Adding branded items to the game is free and it’s a great way for brands such as HBC to test the waters authentically with video games.

On a non profit standpoint, Hellmann’s and Second Harvest partnered up this summer to turn spoiled turnips into real meals for the hungry. As part of an in-game integration, Hellmann’s opened up their own island where players bring their wilted turnips and in turn, the company donated one meal for each drop off to Second Harvest.

Players regularly purchase turnips in the in-game market and can spoil within the week.

Hellmann’s goal was to not only meet a 25,000 meal target to donate but to also inspire players to think differently about real world food waste.

Second Harvest is Canada’s largest food rescue charity with a dual mission of environmental protection and hunger relief. You can donate to their cause all year round here.

On a more intriguing, recent case study, politics have also taken advantage of what Animal Crossing has to offer. The Biden-Harris campaign released four sign designs for players to download and decorate their homes. They have recognized that the youth represents a large chunk of voters who can make a difference in this year’s election and that they consume content much differently than the older demographic.

More information on the Biden-Harris campaign and their partnership with a Toronto and Vancouver-based esports company can be explored here.

Furthermore, the creation of Biden's HQ Island featured voting booths that lead to the Democratic National Committee’s voting site, an avatar representing Biden with his signature shades, his dogs and even Harris’s sneaker collection.

Credit to the Democrats in finding new and creative ways to bring voters together where they’re most comfortable.

Look for politicians to further utilize video games in future elections worldwide.