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Product placement in videogames -- Adidas, Goodyear, and Fox Sports are just some of the companies putting ads in games

Video-game hypesters are fond of saying that interactive titles are becoming more ''cinematic.'' And they're right: Just like in the movies, games are hawking commercial goods by slyly incorporating products and logos into the action. Here's a promo-savvy player's guide to brand placements in video games:

Tony Meola's Sidekicks Soccer Brands: Foot Locker, Adidas. How They're Used: Logos on billboards that surround soccer field. Marketers' Rationale: ''The game itself is so realistic, having a Foot Locker sign in there just adds to the realism.'' (Foot Locker) ''Since Adidas is synonymous with soccer, we look at these kinds of opportunities as one more reinforcement of the brand.'' (Adidas) Kid Reaction: ''I don't pay much attention to it.'' (Will Engelhardt, age 9)

Nigel Mansell's World Championship Racing Brands: Shell, Goodyear. How They're Used: Logos on racetrack billboards. Marketers' Rationale: ''We are strong in racing — it's an opportunity to get our name out in front of a lot of people.'' (Goodyear) ''We're happy for our logo to be used in a sport in which we have a high profile.'' (Shell) Kid Reaction: ''I didn't care for that...Unless it's something I already want, it usually doesn't really catch my eye.'' (Engelhardt)

Madden NFL '95 Brand: Fox Sports. How It's Used: The Fox logo appears on John Madden's coffee mug and on end-zone billboards. Marketer's Rationale: ''It's part of our whole push to increase the younger demos of football.'' Kid Reaction: ''I really didn't notice any logos or stuff in NFL '95. Well, actually, yes, I did...I completely forgot what it said.'' (Jonathan Carter, age 9)

Ivan Stewart's Super Off Road: The Baja Brand: Toyota. How They're Used: Brand name is visible on trucks in the game. Marketer's Rationale: ''The primary target is young adults, specifically males, particularly for Toyota compact pickup trucks, and that's generally the audience for this Super Nintendo game as well.'' Kid Reaction: ''I don't think that a game like that would help me to decide something in the future, like buying a car." (Ben Sack, age 9)

Andre Agassi Tennis Brands: Nike, Canon. How They're Used: Logos for both companies appear on wall of tennis court. Marketers' Rationale: ''They asked us and we thought it certainly wouldn't hurt us.'' (Nike; no response from Canon) Kid Reaction: ''I don't think I saw any (ads).'' (Engelhardt)

Originally posted Jan 13, 1995 Published in issue #257 Jan 13, 1995 Order article reprints