Zap Virtual Windshield Bugs, Get Coupon for Bug Wash

Prestone Creates Online Game to Promote 5-Year-Old Product

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DETROIT (AdAge.com) -- Prestone Products Corp. had a pesky problem: It wanted to build awareness for an existing product, its Bug Wash windshield washer solution, but didn't want to use TV. After all, the entire Prestone brand, best known for its auto antifreeze, spent just $7 million in measured media last year, according to TNS Media Intelligence.
Prestone's online game challenges players to knock as many smashed bugs as possible off a virtual car windshield.
Prestone's online game challenges players to knock as many smashed bugs as possible off a virtual car windshield.

Game idea
Tom Parr, senior VP-creative director on the account at McCann Erickson, Birmingham, Mich., had an immediate idea for an online game. But, he said, he didn't want to contract a big-name game developer. He presented his situation to Stacy Gizinski, a producer at the agency.

Ms. Gizinski put out feelers among her contacts at graphic houses and design firms. She landed on Marty Peterson, an audio engineer at Ozone Music in nearby Royal Oak, who has a game-designing cousin with his own New York-based outfit, Atomic Adam.

Buzzkill.com
The result and the solution to Prestone's problem is an online game created by the cousins, complete with background music, at buzzkill.com. It went live yesterday. The animated game simulates looking out the front windshield while driving a vehicle. Players kill insects as they arrive, and after nailing 10 of the flying critters, they are allotted Preston's Bug Wash, which zips away any splats. Visitors also can download a coupon for the product by registering or can enter their scores.

Ken Gaynor, Prestone product manager, said the site attracted 30,000 hits in the first week, with an average of 135 people per hour. Most of the visitors are coming from the Weather Channel's site, he said.

One drawback to getting buzzkill.com to go viral: The site has no easy way to let game-players pass along the game to friends, other than e-mailing the URL.

Bug expert interview
Still, the Honeywell International unit will back the game with banner ads. The blitz includes a radio media tour via scheduled interviews with Mark Hostetler, a University of Florida bug expert.

"We wanted to create new buzz for an established product," said Mr. Gaynor. "By using new media to spread the word about our Bug Wash fluid, we're taking on a distinctive role in consumer auto product advertising." The product is more than five years old, but most of Prestone's limited advertising budget goes to promote its core antifreeze products, also its most well-known, Mr. Gaynor said.
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