While embedding real products in video games has become increasingly common, is there an opportunity to launch virtual brands in environments such as video games, MMOGs and virtual worlds and then translate the brand to a commercial product in the 'real' world?
Former MIT academic and current Xbox Live Arcade product planner David Edery thinks so. He wrote a 2006 article for the Harvard Business Review, suggesting that "reverse product placement,"the commercial translation of fictional brands or products from games into the real world could make sense. Edery argues, "Why spend tens or hundreds of millions of dollars fighting mature competitors for mindshare and shelf space in the physical world when you can launch a new offering in an uncluttered fictional one?" Source: Gamasutra.com
He notes that it happens with other media, such as "Every Flavor Beans," from Harry Potter books and movies that was converted into a real-world product by Cap Candy, a division of Hasbro.
“The Simpsons Movie” was promoted by selling real products under imaginary brand names like Buzz Cola, Frosted Krusty-O’s and so on, and certain 7-Eleven locations were temporarily re-branded as outposts of the show’s Kwik-E-Mart chain.
And LastExittoNowhere.com specializes in creating t-shirts with movie-created logos such as The Tyrell Corporation, the high tech biocorp and producers of human-like androids known as replicants in the futuristic thriller, "The Blade Runner."
Reverse product placement is an interesting idea with distinct possibilities for marketers whose target audience is consistent with video game, MMOGs and virtual world fans.