Could a Marketer Like Purina Create the Next Flappy Bird?

Target Plans Series of Mobile Games with Brand Partners

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Pop It! mobile game
Pop It! mobile game

The popularity of simply designed, maddeningly addictive mobile games is soaring, as evidenced by the "Flappy Bird" phenomenon. And Target is hoping to capitalize on the trend with the launch of as many as half a dozen mobile games this year.

The retailer plans to work with brands on the launch of the games, tying them to product launches or specific events. On Sunday, it launched "Pop It!" with Purina's Beggin' brand as a way to promote this month's launch of Beggin' Party Poppers a new dog treat that comes in a canister shaped like a pig's head. Dog lovers can place one of the treats -- Beggin' wrapped cheese flavored cubes -- onto the pig's nose and then push the nose to launch the treat into the air.

Likewise, the game requires users to push on the pig's nose when a treat approaches it on a conveyor belt. Other items, like keys and a shoe, must be tapped before reaching the pig's nose to clear them from the conveyor belt.

Purina's Beggin' Poppers
Purina's Beggin' Poppers

Christi Maginn, director-shopper marketing for Nestle Purina PetCare, said this is the first time the brand has paired a mobile game with a product launch. She views it as an opportunity to test out new territory for the company.

"Research has shown games consume more time than any other interaction on mobile devices. ...We wanted to create a simple mobile game that's easily socially shareable, opposed to an app," Ms. Maginn explained. "'Pop It!' is challenging enough to be worthy of repeat plays, but simple enough for anyone in the family to enjoy."

As Target looks to beef up its mobile presence, Dawn Block, and mobile, said it is measuring interaction and enjoyment, looking at when shoppers first play a game and if they replay it. For its "Snack Bowl" mobile game, tied to the Super Bowl, Target saw a replay rate of 50%, Ms. Block said.

"Smart phones are continuing to play a larger and larger role in our guests' lives," Ms. Block said, noting that two-thirds of Target customers have a smart phone. "We're trying to go where our guests go."

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