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Retro Games and C-Suite Pains

Services: Wonderfully Creative Campaigns


  • SCC
  • Netapp


"Escape the big bad" vendor was the VERY FIRST campaign that Sharper ever ran. It's our baby, and we love it in all it's wonky glory.


Unique game plays




Engagement KPIs

The Challenge

Specialist Computer Centre (or SCC to their friends) had been offered a tantalising opportunity by one of their partners, NetApp.

See, NetApp were putting a big pot of MDF (Marketing Development Funds, not Medium Density Fibreboard) up for grabs to fund campaign activity which was to be squarely focused on displacing their enterprise storage competitors. This was a "Dragon's Den" style affair where multiple partners were competing against each other, with the best campaign idea taking the prize.

SCC had spoken to a couple of other agencies to get some ideas but nothing was really making them all that excited or tickling their fancy. It was your standard "write some content, send some emails, hit the phones" approach.

But then Sharper entered the mix...

SCC escape the vendor CS 01

The Solution

There were two key things at play when it came to formulating some campaign ideas:

  1. The enterprise storage vendors, NetApp, wanted to displace the big boys who some would say, have been abusing that position and making their customers' lives harder than they needed to be.
  2. The audience for the campaign was CIOs and CTOs. Notoriously tricky to engage and often the least receptive to obvious "marketing" approaches.

So, something different needed to be done to grab the attention of the target audience and tell the story about why they should consider a switch in enterprise storage vendors.

With that focus on what needed to be said and who the audience were, Sharper came up with "Escape: The Big Bad Vendor", an 8-bit, retro style online game.

SCC escape the vendor CS 02

Why this idea?

The target audience will predominantly be men of an age who will remember these 8-bit, retro-style games from the first time around meaning we can invoke a heavy dose of nostalgia, and through the game we can quickly and succinctly sow the seeds of why escaping their "big bad vendor" is a great thing to do.

NetApp loved the idea for the campaign and gave SCC and Sharper the go ahead.

(In fact, the NetApp team had set aside an hour to discuss the campaign approaches they'd been pitched but had decided SCC and Sharper's was the one to go with in under 3 minutes. Nice.)

The "Escape: The Big Bad Vendor" game itself was built on it's own microsite (complete with back-end analytics and a database to track and manage all interactions with game) and a co-ordinated campaign across email and social media (both paid and organic via the SCC and NetApp teams) was launched to drive awareness of and, most importantly, plays of the game itself by the target audience.

Once people had played the game and parted with their contact details to secure a spot on the leaderboard, SCC's telemarketing partner then followed up directly to kick off conversations about how they could actually escape from their big bad vendor in real life.

But did all this retro-game, co-ordinated campaign approach actually do the job?

Of course it did...

Coupled with an on-page leaderboard (so people can compete against each other and themselves) as well as some nifty in-game data capture mechanisms (for further follow up), SCC and Sharper pitched the idea to NetApp...

SCC escape the vendor CS 03_chopped

The Results

Thanks to the combined email and social media approach, and even though the data-sets we were working with were quite small, the campaign was able to reach and be played by over 9000 target contacts in total.

Most important though was the fact that these contacts were actually playing the game and doing so for more than double the amount of time anticipated - which meant greater exposure to the message of the campaign and the SCC brand. People were playing the game more than we thought they would and doing so for longer. Which is a win win.

But what did all that high level stuff translate to in terms of ACTUAL results?

How does an ROI of 1:15 and the campaign being renewed for a second phase sound? Pretty good for the first even campaign we ran as an agency, right? We think so too.

SCC escape the vendor CS 02
Here's what Russ Powell, Founder/MD of Sharper had to say...

"You always remember your first, right? Escape the Big Bad vendor will always hold a special place in my heart as the very first campaign Sharper ever ran.

When you look at it in the context of what has followed it does look like someone's GCSE project. But the underlying approach - about engaging people in a different, inventive, interesting way - is clearly there.

It's amazing to look back and see how far we've come since"

So, fancy making your B2B marketing Sharper? We’re ready when you are.

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