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Jonathan Stringfield presenting at Advertising Week NY with the Advertising Week NY logo in the corner.

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Advertising Week New York 2023 Recap

October 25, 2023

6 minute read

A group photo of panelist for “The Fierce Nature of Fandom & the Halo Effect of Gaming.” From left to right, Alexander Lee (Digiday),  Indy Khabra (Livewire), Kim Thompson (Spark Foundry), and Jonathan Stringfield (Activision Blizzard)

From left to right: Alexander Lee (Digiday), Indy Khabra (Livewire), Kim Thompson (Spark Foundry), and Jonathan Stringfield (Activision Blizzard)

The power of fandom took center stage during Advertising Week NY 2023, as brands, marketers, and gaming industry leaders came together for a compelling session led by Activision Blizzard Media on how to leverage the passion of gaming fans. Moderated by Digiday’s Gaming and Esports Reporter Alexander Lee, “The Fierce Nature of Fandom & the Halo Effect of Gaming,” was paneled by Activision Blizzard’s VP of Global Research and Marketing, Jonathan Stringfield, Livewire Co-Founder and Director Indy Khabra, and Spark Foundry President (and long-time Call of Duty player) Kim Thompson.

The discussion was a deep dive into the world of gaming fandom, highlighting key insights and strategies to connect brands with this highly engaged and passionate audience based on our latest research. Some of the highlights were that players see in-game brands as premium, credible, hip/trendy, and cool; and that fandom definitively drives interest and purchase behavior.

But at the heart of the discussion was the recognition that fans share a common bond — a passion for premium IP, characters, stories, or pursuits that they engage with actively and frequently. This shared passion fosters a sense of community and identity, creating a powerful emotional and social connection that brands can tap into.

Activision Blizzard Media VP of Global Business Research and Marketing, Jonathan Stringfield.

Our panelists emphasized the concept of the 'halo effect' in marketing — the idea that brands can "borrow" the affinity that fans have for their media, thereby driving brand affinity. This is particularly potent within the gaming industry, where fandoms thrive due to the interactive nature of games, the rich narratives and characters, and the agency players have within these virtual worlds.

However, the session also acknowledged a double-edged sword when working with fandoms. The key, as noted during the session, is to respect the passion of the players and integrate with the game in a manner that complements rather than interrupts the gaming experience.

As gaming continues to grow within the media landscape, understanding and engaging with gaming fandoms will become increasingly important. The first step is to start with the beloved IP that exists within the current gaming landscape and understand how brands can positively influence the fan's experience.

Advertising Week NY 2023 brought to light the power of fandom in the gaming industry, providing invaluable insights and strategies for brands to tap into this passionate audience, respect their interests, and build stronger connections.

A photo of the room and the crowd that filled it at the “The Fierce Nature of Fandom & the Halo Effect of Gaming" Advertising Week New York session.

Key Takeaways

1. The Power of Fandom: Panelists highlighted the immense potential for brands to leverage the passion of gaming fans. This shared enthusiasm for games creates a sense of community and identity, which, when tapped into effectively, can yield significant benefits for brands. It emphasized the emotional and social connection that fans have with their favorite games, characters, and narratives, which can be harnessed to enhance brand affinity.

2. The Halo Effect: The concept of the 'halo effect' in marketing was emphasized, demonstrating how brands can benefit from the positive emotions associated with gaming fandoms. However, it's crucial to balance this with respect for the fans' interests, as going against them can lead to negative experiences. Brands need to seamlessly integrate into the gaming environment in a way that complements rather than disrupts the gaming experience.

3. Engaging with Gaming Fandoms: The session concluded with a call to action for brands to understand and engage more actively with gaming fandoms. This includes using the popular IP within the gaming landscape to positively influence the fan's experience. The research shared highlighted that fans perceive brands that advertise within games as more credible and premium. As gaming continues to grow, this engagement will become increasingly important.

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