Stella Artois’ online game featuring a fictitious law firm, Sable & Shuck, which offered to buy players’ souls on behalf of the devil (MW December 2, 2004) has come to an end – with none of the 50,000 people who registered to play winning the £10,000 prize.
But Stella claims the campaign, which included award-winning press advertising, style magazine editorial and actors handing out Sable & Shuck business cards at Stella Artois events, has been a resounding success, with a total of 600,000 people logging on over the past year.
Stella brand manager Kerry Collinge says: “We had an original target of 20,000 visitors to the site, but we achieved more than 30 times that.” And while the game was supposed to be UK-only, it eventually attracted players from the US, other parts of Europe and even Japan.
According to the game’s terms and conditions, if no one solves the complete puzzle by June 27, 2005, “the prize will be given to the participant who, in the opinion of the promoter, provided the closest answer.” However, Draft London, which created the campaign for Stella, has now had to release extra information online to generate a winner. Collinge says: “To get an ultimate winner or winners we decided to give a helping hand.”
Players were supposed to follow clues posted on a variety of websites to track down a missing person named John Harker.
With clues hidden in press, poster and television ads, on websites, on voicemail systems and in text messages, such games – known as alternate reality games (ARGs) – have been used for a number of marketing campaigns recently. Last year 500,000 players logged on every week for updates to I Love Bees, an ARG promoting the Microsoft Xbox game Halo 2. More recently, Audi ran a game about a stolen Audi A3 to promote the launch of the car in the US. Created by agency McKinney & Silver, more than 500,000 people visited the site stolena3.com, over the three month-long campaign.