Gillette Venus, Cottonelle help players customize Nintendo’s ‘Animal Crossing’

Brief:

  • Procter & Gamble’s Gillette Venus brand of razors and Kimberly-Clark’s Cottonelle brand of toilet paper recently activated campaigns on “Animal Crossing: New Horizons,” the Nintendo social-simulation game that surged in popularity during pandemic lockdowns.
  • Gillette Venus is promoting its Summer Skinclusive line in “Animal Crossing” with its “My Skin. My Way” campaign that offers skin-inclusive designs for player avatars. The designs include eight skin tones and 19 skin types that can be combined in more than 250 ways, showing freckles, acne, hair, cellulite, scars and stretch marks, along with vitiligo, tattoos, psoriasis and differently abled bodies. As part of the campaign, Venus will host an “‘Animal Crossing’ Skinclusive Summer Social” event on YouTube Live on Aug. 31 to celebrate National Beach Day, according to an announcement shared with Mobile Marketer.
  • ​​Cottonelle collaborated with hip-hop artist T-Pain to promote its line of digital patterns that players of “Animal Crossing” can use in designing the virtual bathrooms in the game. The brand asks players to share screen shots on social media of how they used the Cottonelle patterns, and to put the #downtherecare hashtag in the caption. T-Pain will visit the virtual islands of select players this month, per information shared with Mobile Marketer.

Insight:

The efforts by Gillette Venus and Cottonelle to create customized content for “Animal Crossing” show how the social-simulation game is becoming a marketing vehicle for major brands. Each brand saw an opportunity to integrate their marketing with the game, which was first introduced in 2001 and became a recent hit with the release of its latest version in March as pandemic lockdowns kept many people indoors. The game challenges players to survive on an island paradise with the help of animal villagers.

Gillette Venus’ development of skin-inclusive designs for avatars positions the brand as promoting diversity among players who want to customize the game to reflect themselves and their personal values. By offering players a way to create avatars with a broader range of skin tones and types, the P&G brand can engage consumers with a branded in-game experience.

The inclusive skin designs are consistent with P&G’s recent efforts to promote diversity in its marketing. The CPG giant last year started streaming a Spotify podcast hosted by singer John Legend to discuss racism, an effort that followed the release of two short films to promote discussion of racial bias against African Americans. Gillette also created a well-received commercial that depicted a transgender teen whose father teaches him to shave.

Cottonelle’s digital content for “Animal Crossing” follows the introduction of an in-game feature that lets avatars use the bathroom. By collaborating with T-Pain, the toilet paper brand can extend the campaign’s reach with an influencer who has gained publicity for his “Animal Crossing” presence. His virtual island includes “an extremely elegant bathroom” with an automatic toilet, shower, fine artwork and a bath tub shaped like a bull, the Washington Post reported. Urging people to share their Cottonelle designs on social media could also help the brand stretch the campaign’s reach. The “Animal Crossing” effort follows its #ShareASquare campaign on social media that urged people to stop stockpiling toilet paper during the pandemic.

Sales of “Animal Crossing” are forecast to total 20 million units after hitting 8 million in Q2, per a Citigroup estimate cited by Reuters. The game is exclusive to the Nintendo Switch, the gaming console with an install base of more than 55 million. Those numbers suggest that marketers creating content for “Animal Crossing” can engage a mass market of players with their brands.

“Animal Crossing” is drawing more attention from brands, with fashion house Valentino, the Monterey Bay Aquarium and the Detroit Lions football team recently creating content for “Animal Crossing,” PR Week reported. Global Pride, a collaboration among LGBTI+ Pride organizations worldwide, in June started hosting a virtual Pride festival in the game to promote inclusion.

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