Publicis Groupe launches specialist gaming offer

Publicis Play will draw specialists from agencies across the group.

The popular 'Call of Duty' video game (Picture: Chesnot/Getty Images)
The popular 'Call of Duty' video game (Picture: Chesnot/Getty Images)

Publicis Groupe is today launching a specialist gaming proposition in the UK that aims to offer advertisers the right creative, media and production opportunities for marketing in video games and esports.

Publicis Play will be staffed by a core team of 10 specialists drawn from agencies Publicis.Poke, Publicis Sport & Entertainment and Spark Foundry. Publicis Groupe intends to give the new division the ability to scale around new and existing client opportunities as they develop.

It will be led by James Anderson, business director at Publicis Sport & Entertainment, Tom Hostler, head of brand experience for Publicis.Poke, and Simon Jones, managing partner in Spark Foundry. They were chosen to take on central roles thanks to their combined experience leading on gaming initiatves for KFC, EE, Heineken and Samsung.

Annette King, chief executive of Publicis Groupe UK, said: “By bringing together the expertise and experience that exists across our agencies and teams, Publicis Play will provide brands with an end-to-end gaming solution spanning media, production, data, technology, commerce and creative. Drawing on this wide range of skills is the key to more success in this space for our clients.”

Publicis Groupe wants to step up its gaming offer after the sector outperformed music, video and film last year, particularly when millions of people spent significantly more time at home due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

UK gaming industry revenues are expected to have risen by 9.4% in 2020 to £5.3bn and are projected to continue to rise by 7.3% annually over the next five years. 

For brands, Publicis says gaming presents a growing variety of rich and interactive content formats that can improve message comprehension, recall and response, from the top to the bottom of the purchase funnel.

For example, people achieving tasks within games can help to build brand favourability and purchase intent. Most mobile games have built in “click to purchase” functionality, which can effectively drive direct-response marketing campaigns.

To address marketers’ potential fears about brand safety, Publicis Play also intends to provide ongoing consultancy to its clients on how to operate safely among gaming audiences, as well as collaborating with players, industry influencers and gaming strategists.

Nick Farnhill, chief executive of Publicis.Poke, added: “Gaming is a part of everyday life for millions, and gaming is a very broad sector – using the phrase ‘gamer’ is about as useful as using the terms ‘TV-er’ or 'movie-er'. There is a game for every player, and a game for every brand. 

“Getting this right requires a broad set of expertise, it’s not just a creative opportunity or a media opportunity or a production challenge, it’s often a blend of all three. With 5G and cloud-based gaming services closing the gap between mobile and traditional console gaming experiences, a raft of new creative opportunities are emerging for brands.”