Fortnite continues to be a proving ground for some of the most immersive digital stunts for marketers.
Just ask the marketers behind the English premiere of Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero. To gain support for the latest installment of the popular film franchise, Toei Animation turned to Epic Games Fortnite for a crossover that fans of both franchises have been dreaming of for years. The end result, however, arguably defies even those lofty expectations.
Of course, there were the usual cosmetic features that have come to define partnerships like this. Players could appear as the most popular characters from anime, for example. Usually that’s where the partnerships end: characters look like they’re supposed to, but don’t behave like they should. Not so with this latest brand onboarding, which took place from August 18-30.
Players could fly around the Fortnite arena on the “Nimbus Cloud” used by the anime’s main character, Goku. They were also able to use his signature move – the “Kamehameha” – as a weapon against other players. The two moves could be combined for players who wanted to recreate the epic, fast-paced fights from the anime. If players completed specific anime-related challenges, rewards could be unlocked.
The companies were eagerly waiting for the universe to create a “new segment of fans,” said Lisa Yamatoya, Toei Animation’s Global Marketing Director, added, “It was very important to us to showcase some of the franchise’s most iconic elements, including the Kamehameha.
It’s all meant to add up to a level of interactivity designed to be so immersive that gamers forget it’s a promotion for a new movie – a difficult task for any brand looking to get its IP address in front of a hungry new audience. The exact financial agreement between the companies is unclear.
Epic Games does not charge brands directly for this type of partnership. The company is taking a portion of the revenue split, which means the deal will still be massively profitable on Epic’s side.
“It’s a bit like advertising, but it doesn’t look like advertising at all. It’s like you’re part of a story,” said Hon-Ming Gianotti, who works as a junior strategist at marketing agency Media.Monks. “It shows us what it’s like to interact with a brand.”
The approach seems to have worked. The film earned over $30.8 million in 10 days at the United States box office, placing it in the top five anime releases of all time.
Right now, Epic Games has more tools at its disposal than indie creators using Fortnite Creative. Building options in Fortnite Creative are increasing, but they currently pale in comparison to what’s offered by branded experiences in the main Battle Royale mode.
“The main game is currently designed for high-level partnerships and big brands. They match what Fortnite is in terms of size,” said Anne-Margot Rodde, who consults on major brand activations in the metaverse. and Fortnite Creative for the Trailer Park Group, a marketing agency that works with major game studios and publishers.
While Fortnite’s Battle Royale mode is currently the main draw for players and advertisers, that could change in the next 10 years. Indeed, partnerships like Dragon Ball Super aim as much to promote the brand in question as to promote Fortnite. Every time a new brand activation occurs in the battle royale mode, including recent Destiny 2 characters and NFL quarterback Patrick Mahomes, thousands of videos of those characters appear on social media. The Kamehahameha videos created a cultural touchpoint just hours after the collaboration was launched.
Naturally, Epic has been assertive about how these partnerships are done, and the developer has inadvertently established a reputation for being hard to work with. He can be incredibly picky about which companies he chooses to partner with despite the variety of brands of all types, shapes and sizes that tried to reach its unique market. An appearance within Fortnite Battle Royale can be an opportunity to help any brand get in front of one of gaming’s biggest audiences.
“The stakes are high,” said Lewis Smithingham, vice president of innovation at Media.Monks. “It’s not about creating popups. It’s about creating theme parks. If you come up with a poser style, people are going to do horrible things with your brand. »