As companies are presented with the ever-challenging goal of achieving and maintaining brand recognition, many fashion companies are now attempting to engage consumers in both the real and virtual worlds. Gaming represents one non-traditional avenue that has undergone recent growth, as brands find value in connecting with existing and potential consumers through interactive online means.
Members of the fashion industry have historically utilized video games as a way to reach consumers. Some successful fashion and video game partnerships have included H&M and Maxis in connection with The Sims 2, Charlotte Ronson's fall 2009 feature in Nintendo’s Style Savvy, and Xbox’s collaboration with certain brands, such as Roxy, Quiksilver, and Skullcandy, to enable the function of stylized avatars.
Recently, forward-thinking fashion companies are looking beyond video games to explore the world of online gaming as a powerful marketing tool. Fashion Week Live, a Facebook game developed in association with IMG Fashion, is one example. Fashion Week Live provides its players with the opportunity to create and showcase fashionable looks and build a career in the fashion industry through various levels of the game. Similarly, this past summer Aldo launched Shoe Paradise, an online game and contest that involved an end-user guiding Aldo’s avatar through an obstacle course while collecting and trying on shoes, all in an effort to promote the brand’s spring/summer collection.
In addition to its marketing appeal, online gaming has also proven to be a valuable means of facilitating ecommerce. Whereas fashion-based games were once predominately designed for and marketed to young girls, now interactive platforms are increasingly aimed at an older age demographic with the specific goal of driving product sales. For example, Stylmee, a fashion game for the iPad that debuted this past spring, targets women ages 25 to 44. Stylmee offers a multifaceted platform with the interactive element of a video game on one hand, allowing end-users to create style boutiques and test their fashion knowledge, and the functionality of an ecommerce site on the other, allowing end-users to purchase real world versions of the items seen in the game.
Although an unlikely pairing, fashion and interactive games seem primed for success as the innovative use of online gaming for marketing and sales purposes continue to evolve. To discover the range of potential legal issues that surround the area of interactive games, check out Sheppard Mullin’s Law of the Level blog.