October 15, 2008 in Nation/World

Video games sport ads for Obama

By DEVLIN BARRETT Associated Press
 
Associated Press photo

An ad for presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama is seen in the XBox360 Live version of “NBA Live 08.” Eighteen video games will feature Obama ads in the next few weeks.
(Full-size photo)

WASHINGTON – Too busy playing video games to watch presidential ads on television? Barack Obama has found you, too, by becoming the first presidential candidate to buy ad space inside a game.

Eighteen video games, including the extremely popular “Guitar Hero” and “Madden 09,” will feature in-game ads from the Obama campaign in the final weeks before the election. The ads – appearing on billboards and other signage – remind players that early voting has begun and plug a campaign Web site that encourages people to register for early voting.

Obama campaign officials said the video game ads target 10 states that allow early voting, including several battleground states: Ohio, Iowa, Indiana, Montana, Wisconsin, North Carolina, Nevada, New Mexico, Florida and Colorado.

“These ads will help us expand the reach of VoteforChange.com, so that more people can use this easy tool to find their early vote location and make sure their voice is heard,” said Obama spokesman Nick Shapiro. The campaign did not say how much it cost to launch the ad blitz on gamers.

The idea of embedding advertising temporarily inside a video game is relatively new, having only begun about 18 months ago, and Obama is the first presidential candidate to buy space, according to Holly Rockwood, a spokeswoman for Electronic Arts Inc., whose company is featuring the Obama ads in nine of its games.

The Democrat’s ads are aimed primarily at game players who like sports, including NASCAR, the NBA, the NHL and skateboarding.

Rockwood would not say how much the ads cost, but she said they are running on the Xbox Live versions of the game through Nov. 3. They began earlier this month.

“It reaches an audience that is typically hard to reach: young males, roughly 18 to 34,” Rockwood said. “That’s very appealing to our advertisers.”

Rockwood declined to say how much revenue the company generates from selling ad space in its games.

For those who still associate video games with clunky “Pac-Man” or “Space Invaders” consoles, here’s how in-game advertising works: The Xbox 360 console connects to the Internet, so it can be updated with new features, including ads. In the case of “Burnout: Paradise,” the game came out in stores in January, but the Obama ads were only inserted this month.

© Copyright 2008 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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