Nestle goes gaming

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With a new online strategy, Nestle USA is looking to upgrade four of its major kids food brands online with new Web sites featuring big-time, high-trafficked games from popular Web gaming sites.

Starting next month, Nestle, through its Internet entertainment agency, the Ayzenberg Group, Pasadena, Calif., will launch a number of new Web sites for its Nesquik, Juicy Juice, SweeTARTS, and new Juicy Juice Score! brands.

Key to Nestle's aim is building Web sites in which it licenses popular games that kids want to play for a long time. Thus, Nestle is taking versions of games from established kids and gaming sites such as Viacom's Nick.com and Macromedia's Shockwave.com and retrofitting them with an outer "skin" to fit Nestle's brands. Nestle's strategy to set up individual Web sites is quite different from what its competitor Kraft Foods' Nabisco does with the arcade site Candystand.com, which is very kid-focused.

Nestle is also working to include parents in the process; all of Nestle's new Web activity will be linked to an overall site targeted to parents called VeryBestKids.com.

"We are creating a single source with these creative ideas which is easy to navigate. It's for the busy mom who has kids between three and 10," said Todd Manion, director of e-commerce for the beverage business for Nestle USA.

Nestle and Ayzenberg thought it crucial to focus on already-popular properties. "How do you get repeat traffic to a Web site?" asked Gary Goodman, senior VP-creative at Ayzenberg. "That's the issue right there. The brand is almost secondary to the platform. We are licensing games. Making sure that it's proven entertainment, [has] proven replay value. Then re-skinning it."

For Nestle's big chocolate drink brand, Nesquik, the site will focus on everyday adventures of the Nesquik bunny. One of the games, called "Chocolate Mountain Challenge," has the bunny snowboarding on a chocolate mountain. This was taken from a game called, "Lenny Loosejocks," developed by Canadian online gamemakers Ezone Corp. and the Group Alliance. Nick.com uses a form of the game on its site.

Also for Nesquik, the company is using an online skateboard game developed by another Canadian online game maker, Sarbakan. The game, originally called "Goodnight, Mr. Snoozleberg" will be re-purposed for a game called, "Nestle Quest."

The younger targeted brand, Juicy Juice, will focus on read-along and sing-along games featuring popular children's rhymes such as "Old McDonald Had a Farm." Nestle is also launching another site for Juicy Juice Score!, a Gatorade-like product for young kids, which will have sports-related games.

"If a mom comes to juicyjuice.com to find out it is really 100% [juice], how many times is she going to do that? Once," said Mr. Goodman. "We are hoping to turn the parents onto really something wonderful."

For SweeTARTS, Nestlesweet-tarts.com will be produced with an artistic bent for older kids, age 9-12. Ayzenberg is putting together "one of the most robust art programs," said Mr. Goodman. The site will include contests, such as one where kids pick their favorite record album and then draw a rendition of what the album should really look like.

The VeryBestKids.com site that the game sites links to expands on other Nestle sites, under the "Very Best" moniker, which includes VeryBestBaking.com, Very BestMeals.com and Very BestBaby.com. Nestle's tag line is "Nestle makes the very best."

Nestle already has other kids food and confection sites which it will continue to run separately. For instance, its Wonka.com, a site stemming from its fictional Willy Wonka Candy Factory, features games and promotes a number of Nestle candy products such as Runts, Nerds, Gobstoppers, Laffy Taffy, and Shock Tarts.

Nestle intends to market these new sites through a series of promotions, and will hire an agency, according to Mr. Goodman. He said the real estate on the packaging will also drive people to these sites.

Nestle executives do have specific online traffic goals in mind. "If you are looking at a competitive set-and Candystand might be a good example-we think we are going to reach beyond those numbers," said Mr. Manion. "[But] it's going to be a slow transition in terms of establishing our relationship with our consumers."

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