Disclaimer: the following statement and succeeding blog post does not in any way reflect my political preferences.
Barack Obama just might be the coolest politician in advertising.
Okay, maybe "cool" is too general. Perhaps "technology forward" or "innovative" might be better terms. For those who can't tell from the quick glance at the screencaps above, both are images from Microsoft video games playable on the Xbox 360 and/or PC. I have to say that I never thought I would see the day when a politician running for office would place billboards inside of video games as a form of advertising mere weeks before the election. It's a bold and interesting move for sure, but is it a good idea?
The running consensus among gamers and developers seems to be that in-game advertising as a general concept is acceptable so long as the advertising does not inhibit game play and is executed in a way that works well with the game. For example, most dynamic in-game ads would be fitting as substitutes for the previously fake advertisements picturing along the track in a racing game, or as banners in a sports game, or billboards in games like the Grand Theft Auto series. When done especially well, these in-game ads might even add realism to the game experience.
I also want to say that I do give Obama a big terrorist-fist-jab à la Fox News for taking his campaign further than most in general. From pure fund-raising to unique advertising ideas like this, it's certainly been a fun political campaign to follow as a marketer.
However, I am still hesitant to embrace the idea of political advertisements in my video games. The advs are obviously intended to reach out to the 18-34 crowd that represents 65% of the gaming community and an age group notorious for voter apathy. But you will have a hard time convincing me that all of the millions of other political advertisments out there have yet failed to reach this demographic. In other words, I'm not sure how much there is to gain from increased exposure when everytime I turn on the TV, tweet, or login to facebook, I see Obama. McCain. Tina Fe- oops, I mean Palin. My point is that the market is saturated enough and we still have a few weeks to go. I promise you, Obama - I won't forget that you're running for president while I'm flying around the Nascar track.