Doritos, an advergaming case study

Working at I have seen many online advergames so have a pretty good idea of what is good and what is bad, both from an advertisers perspective and from a gamers.

Many brands create very simple, not very enjoyable games, that push their product or logo down the gamers throat at every opportunity, ignoring the gameplay thinking that people seeing their brand in a game is enough. However having a bad game chock full of logos will damage your branding more than enhance it, so it was with some trepidation that I responded to a request for a review of the latest Doritos ad campaign.

The concept of the promotion is simple. Doritos have launched a new flavour (called ID3) and they want people to guess what the flavour is … for a £20,000 prize. Very nice!

The game follows a simple premise. You play yourself from a first person perspective, and you start off running away from the police. You have no idea why but they’re chasing you but you do have an unknown flavour of Doritos on you. The story unfolds rapidly with you having to go undercover to infiltrate a gang all to unlock the mysterious identity of a gangster.

The production and development behind the promotion is really very nice. The Doritos ID3 uses real streaming video with proper actors putting you right in the action. Everything is filmed in first person, even having blinks overlaid to give the impression that you’re looking through your own eyes. You are also given some cool glasses that enable other team members to talk to you – explaining the ubiquitous gaming heads up display.

The gameplay itself is fairly limited. In the first episode there are some multiple choice pathways and one 3D section – but otherwise it’s all about watching a video. Fortunately the Doritos ID3 campaign is a lot more about experience than gameplay – and it does, very surprisingly, work.

One of the biggest things holding this game back, and I think this is a shame, is that you have to buy some Doritos (for a code on the packet) to get anywhere beyond the first 5 minutes. Personally I would have made the first episode totally free – no crisps required – so that when people complete it and get to episode 2 they are invested in the game and want to buy some product to find out what will happen next. Of course if you’ve bought the crisps already then it’s not an issue, but I think it’s best to make everything as easy as possible to play.

I like the way Facebook Connect is used for the game logins – and using your Facebook profile photo on the cards I’d picked up is a nice touch. In fact the game is full of nice touches. Initials, the agency who made the promotion, have clearly put a lot of love and care into making something as entertaining as possible that works well within the confines of a simple web browser.

I can count the number of advergames I have enjoyed on one hand, and I can safely add this one to the list.

Oh – and the ID3 Doritos taste pretty good too. I reckon they’re some sort of curry flavour.

Let me know what you think on Mastodon, or BlueSky (or Twitter X if you must).

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