Case in Point: When marketers underestimate their audience

One of my deepest passions is gaming, and I have a particular love for casual games since they are great pick-up-and-play options for busy gamers like myself. I developed and maintain to help other likeminded gamers find resources to keep up with gaming news and to advocate on their behalf.

So when I find a code for a free game on my cherry tomatoes container, I’m inclined to give it a try. Though I was a bit dismayed at what I found:

Cherubs Tomatoes Match-3 game

Cherubs Tomatoes Match-3 game (click to play)

This “game” shows a lack of knowledge of the marketer’s target audience, which – as I know from my time working in casual games – is older women. Sure, it’s a Match-3 puzzler but it’s a) extremely dated and b) goes against the expectation of what a free game code should deliver.

Your average housewife has moved beyond the simple online Match-3. Games like Bejeweled Blitz and CSI – The Game are much more diverting than mindlessly matching a few branded icons together. And game codes are more typically redeemed for full-featured downloadable games, not a simple Web game that you don’t really even need a code for (the code directs you, but once you’re there you could share the link to the actual game).

The game does match with the collection of games offered in the Kid Friendly “Fun Zone” but all but the smallest children would be quickly bored by this frail offering. My own 6-year-old is already hooked on Nintendo DS and plays more complex games like Avatar and Kirby. His matching game of choice is the much deeper Pokemon Trozei. In fact, two of the three games currently in the Fun Zone (High Flying Cherubs and Make a Match) are better than this basic Match-3 clone. (The third is a print-a-PDF coloring page.)

There are a few ways this campaign could have been better conceived. The code could have unlocked a more full-featured downloadable game. Nature Sweet might have partnered with a casual game company to create a branded version of a successful franchise, such as a hidden object game (find the hidden Cherubs!) or platformer (Cherub’s jumping adventure in the land of the evil weeds!). Or they could have created a richer version of the Match-3 game with power-ups, leaderboards, and weekly prizes for top scorers.

Instead, the majority of casual game-savvy customers who take the time to enter their codes and play this game will be left with bad tastes in their mouths. Which was probably NOT the campaign’s goal.

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