By Joe Herbert,
of the Herbert Brothers,
Jeezle Pete’s! LLC
If “fun” were removed from the description of your toy or game…what is left?
We are writer/producer/directors of commercials for television and the Internet, that is, when we are not inventing products for the toy and game industry. AND, we employ the same tactics and strategies with our approach to pitching a new toy or game as we do in producing great advertising -- and it works.
WHAT’S THE HOOK?
The first thing to ask yourself is, “What’s the hook?” In other words, why would somebody want this? If you can answer this question without using obvious phrases like, “it’s great” or “it’s fun” then you might have something special -- something that sells. If removing those popular phrases leaves you with nothing much to say about it, then you will likely hear in return, “it’s great...” or “it’s fun, BUT...” and you are left wondering why nobody wants your great fun toy or game.
GIVE THE HOOK BEFORE YOU GET THE HOOK
The opening of a TV commercial should engage the viewer immediately, and not leave them wondering if they should change the channel. Learn from this.
If there is something really special about your toy or game, present it early in the pitch (and visually in your packaging) to get people immediately excited about your product, and interested to learn more. Don’t save it for some grand finale or big reveal at the end.
OUR APPROACH: We often invent a marketing hook first, then build a game invention around it.
THE ART OF A QUICK PITCH!
If you have trouble describing your game in under a minute, then your game might be a hard sell. When producing commercials we are forced to tell a story in 30 or 60 seconds. Believe us -- it’s a difficult art, but one you must master for pitching new concepts.
TIP: Your 30-second-pitch should be cleverly incorporated visually in the game and its packaging, and introduced early (or predominantly) in a game’s instructions.
The key to producing an online video with the intent of “going viral” is to produce something that is beyond interesting. First, you must connect with the viewer on an emotional level (we use laughter) so that they not only enjoy what they saw, but are compelled to SHARE it with others. Second, it should be fast and easy to SHARE (usually with the click of a button). This is vital. And, it is also relevant to inventing new toys and games.
Your invention should go beyond “fun.” It should connect with your audience on an emotional level so that they not only enjoy it, but feel compelled to SHARE it with others. Companies in the industry refer to this as, “the WOW factor.” This is what EVERYONE is looking for.
KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE
There is a reason male performance enhancement ads don’t air during morning cartoons. Commercials are tailored for a specific audience, and are shown where the audience will be looking. Remember that with toys and games you have at least three audiences: Those who will use it, those who will buy it, and those who will be licensing it. Your game play, packaging, and pitch should be specific to your audience(s).
TIP: People like quality -- in videos and with concepts. You’ve heard the expression, “you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.” Go the extra mile with the look and design of your prototypes. AND, having a nice video to go with it never hurts. ;)
THE EXCITING CONCLUSION!
In comparing games that we’ve licensed against those that were not (yet) it is no coincidence that the games we licensed the quickest are those with the shortest pitches, and most compelling hooks -- both of which are evident before you even play it! After you do those successfully the very last thing should be that it’s “great” and “fun.” And, we’ve found that if you do those other things first, the “greatfun” will take care of itself, but not vice versa.
For a good laugh, you can watch commercials we have produced, including the #1 Super Bowl commercial of 2009, on our video production web site at www.herbertbrothers.com