Soda Fountain of Youth

Marketing to young children and teenagers can be quite a challenge given a majority of them do not have access to credit cards. As a result, enabling young users to purchase virtual currency has been an obstacle in social gaming. One successful solution that we at Peanut Labs stand behind is offering surveys in exchange for game specific currency. Dr Pepper and Electronic Arts announced a multi-million dollar cross-promotion yesterday that offers another solution to this challenge.

When gamers buy one of 500 million promotional bottles and cups, they can obtain a code that can be cashed in for virtual currency on the Dr. Pepper site.  Several games are currently supported by this promotion with plans to expand.

In the past year, the market for offline virtual currency has seen huge growth, with many convenience stores like 7-11 carrying pre-paid gaming cards. As Inside Social Games perceptively points out, this particular distribution channel is a perfect fit with young kids enjoying sugary treats like those carried at 7-11 and buying them anyway.

What really struck a chord with our company is this: what young children and teenagers like and dislike has become a legitimate focus of advertising executives sitting in their offices on Madison Avenue. In the past, marketers were not trying to reach this younger demographic, but instead were targeting their parents. If a child liked something, they would ask their parents, the purchasing decision maker, to buy it for them. In the case of offline virtual currency, children are the consumers and the buying decisions are often theirs alone.

Children and teenagers have an inherent inclination to be independent and self reliant. This campaign taps into their independent spirit and their desire to have their own voice. You could say it’s both a blessing and a curse to influence trends. What will our youth do with this new found command?

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