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Unlocking the value of gaming: How 60% of the world's top 25 most innovative CMOs in 2023 embrace gaming in their strategies

Unlocking the value of gaming: How 60% of the world's top 25 most innovative CMOs in 2023 embrace gaming in their strategies

Every year, Insider presents its list of the 25 most innovative CMOs. These selections are based on more than 70 nominations and recommendations from peers and industry experts, focusing on the Chief Marketing Officers who have tackled the biggest challenges in the past year.

This year's significant challenges included maintaining consumer spending during the economic downturn, navigating new technologies like generative A.I., and engaging with Gen Z.

As a gaming-for-brands agency, we were particularly interested in the last challenge: reaching Gen Z. This interest peaked after discovering that over 60% of the world's top 25 CMOs had employed gaming in some way during the past year to connect with Gen Z.

Observing some of the world's largest brands entering the gaming realm and planning to continue doing so reinforces our belief that bringing brands into gaming GAME CULTURE is becoming more mainstream.

However, it's essential to remember that brands are guests in this domain and must always radically put players first. Meaning that brand campaigns should aim to enhance the player's experience rather than feeling like an intrusion into their safe space.

Below we have summarized 5 of the CMO’s and its brands who we think are worth highlighting and are worth a read.

Mastercard – Raja Rajamanner

Rajamanner, who has served as CMO of Mastercard for a decade, openly acknowledged that gaming has evolved into a global phenomenon. He claimed that the passion for esports and gaming is undeniable, transcending age, race, and culture, with 90% of Gen Z being gaming enthusiasts.

This is why, in May, they launched a loyalty program in the Asia-Pacific region focused on gaming, called Mastercard Gamer Xchange. It allows consumers to convert their unspent Mastercard reward points into gaming currency across nearly 4,000 gaming titles.

This initiative represents one of Mastercard's latest forays into the gaming and esports domain, building upon their previous ventures.

Chipotle – Chris Brandt

Under Brandt's supervision, Chipotle has aimed to be an early adopter of new technologies, with a particular focus on platforms like TikTok and Web 3. Most notably, the brand has ventured into the gaming domain through metaverses such as Roblox and Fortnite.

For example, in Roblox, they created an in-game experience where players could assemble their own burritos, paying homage to the Chipotle burrito that was born in 1993, while also reaching Gen Z.

In Fortnite, they designed a Chipotle-branded speed run map where players could compete for the fastest times and win free chipotle for a year.

Shake Shack – Jay Livingston

Livingston is actively working on integrating Shake Shack into the gaming community.

Most recently, the chain created virtual stores and menu items in ‘The Sims 4’. Allowing players to digitally visit the restaurant.

Additionally the digital shake shack location was promoted by creators on both Twitch and Youtube.

Lego – Julia Goldin

Goldin has served as Lego's CMO for nearly a decade. The primary reason Insider recognizes her as one of the most innovative CMOs in the world is her forward-looking approach.

In a podcast last October, she stated, 'We're discussing things that will unfold over the next three to seven years—how we shape them, invest in them, and develop them.'

As a result of these forward-looking thoughts, one of the initiatives was to integrate Lego into the digital world through a partnership with Epic Games, among other endeavors.

Crocs – Heidi Cooley 

To celebrate its 20th anniversary, crocs, under the CMO lead of Cooley hosted the month-long Croctober event.

The event featured a sponsored virtual concert in Roblox by the K-pop band Aespa, which attracted more than 2.5 million players to visit the experience, with over 225.000 players purchasing virtual versions of Crocs in Roblox.

Furthermore, while staying around the world of gaming, Cooley’s team collaborated with the popular game Minecraft to create a pair of physical shoes inspired by the game. This shows that gaming is gaining more and more recognition among top brands and the world's most innovative CMOs.

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