State Farm’s motion-captured NBA2K mascot combines the virtual and the physical

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Since State Farm first sponsored the League of Legends Championship Series in 2018, its presence in the game has expanded to include partnerships with large companies and individual players. The latest activation from the insurance company takes him straight into a video game world by translating State Farm’s mascot Jake of State Farm into a non-playable character in NBA2K22.

This is the first time that a brand mascot has appeared in NBA2K, and an experience for both the game and State Farm – but its creators believe the strong cultural presence of the State Farm mascot will help retain the interest of players. “He’s kind of become a part of the culture,” said Craig Miller, Creative Director at The Marketing Arm, the agency that developed the activation. “People even dress like Jake from State Farm for Halloween.”

State Farm’s relationship with the developer of NBA2K 2K Sports began just a year after the company began sponsoring the NBA in 2010. “We’ve done a lot with them,” said Patty Morris, assistant vice president of marketing. and the State Farms brand, to post signage, which mimics real life.

To date, State Farm’s involvement in NBA2K has followed the lead of its partnership with the real NBA. The company has delayed exploring the potential of title-specific features, such as The City, a sort of mini-metaverse where players can congregate before and after games. The town is where the virtual mascot can be found idling in front of a storefront and offering players access to a free in-game skin based on State Farm’s uniforms.

The game’s mascot is eerily realistic, the result of a development process that combined NBA2K’s bespoke motion capture technology with comedic timing from actor Kevin Miles. “We’re still very much aware of that fine line between an immersive experience and an intrusive experience,” Morris said. “The last thing you want to do is take yourself out of context and derive value from the experience.”

Despite this caution, the in-game experience ultimately comes across as more of an advertisement than a real interaction on the street, with slightly stilted, albeit awesome, dialogue. But State Farm isn’t too concerned with ROI metrics; the company approaches the virtualized mascot as an experience that can be tested and refined to help improve similar activations in the future. “Doing something new and different with a whole new partner brings a ton of value to us as a sponsor, and we think that’s value for the players of the game,” Morris said.

State Farm is doubling down on its partnership by hosting a “Jakeover” live stream event on Twitch this Saturday, October 2, featuring the real Jake from State Farm and a group of top NBA2K streamers. “We want to be true to this partnership, and there will be social support to back it up,” Miller said.

While strong brand involvement may turn off NBA2K players, the fact that the partnership distributes free skins to participating players allows it to enhance their experience instead of just existing alongside the game. “You have to do this. something that enhances the player experience, ”said Marta Swannie, senior creative director at Superunion agency. “If you do something that doesn’t feel authentic, it’s going to sound like an interruption. “

As society moves into the metaverse, consumers become more comfortable with virtual representations of real people, and brands will continue to follow suit through partnerships that combine the real and the virtual. For State Farm, a long-time NBA sponsor, bringing its mascot into the hottest basketball video game was a natural extension of its sponsorship activities into the physical world. “We kind of reflect reality,” Morris said.

State Farm’s motion-captured NBA2K mascot combines the virtual with the physical

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