Stagwell-owned agency bets on new gaming partnership to target Gen Z

Stagwell-owned business agency Gale on Tuesday formed a strategic partnership with gaming agency Moonrock Labs to expand its efforts around branded gaming experiences, from building in-person activations to in-game media opportunities.

The gaming solutions partnership will allow both parties to leverage Moonrock Labs’ game development and design capabilities and Gale’s integrated marketing approach and client base. The two agencies have had ongoing collaborations involving clients such as Wells Enterprises, Bomb Pop and Truth Initiative.

Ben James, Gale’s chief innovation officer, believes gaming is still an untapped market for brands — especially when it comes to creating content with the communities and creators on popular platforms.

“We think that they’re under-immersed,” James told Digiday. “It’s through this partnership that we think that we’re getting much deeper with Moonrock to come to clients with opportunities to go deep into the gaming space, so that we can actually have more effective business there — but by doing it in authentic and super fun ways.”

Moonrock Labs specializes in building experiences within huge video game worlds, including Fortnite, Roblox and Minecraft. The company said integrating into these virtual worlds has helped boost the reach of its partners and clients, which include Fanta, Burger King and Macy’s. With the Gale partnership, the companies will focus on three areas: emerging products and technology, research and development, and access to gamers.

John Benyamine, co-founder of Moonrock Labs, said the partnership is a way for both firms to enhance their gaming efforts and build more long-form, immersive content for consumers — and go beyond just adding a brand’s logo or digital replicas in the metaverse.

“It’s just like, here’s a cool experience,” Benyamine said. “You get to have it with your friends and with other gamers, and we’re just part of the community … I think that’s just a nice approach compared to, ‘Let’s drop a store in the middle of this experience in Roblox,’ or ‘Let’s put a logo here.’ No, this is integral to the game.”

The explosion of gaming content is growing beyond gaming platforms, especially in attracting Gen Z and other gamers on platforms with reach outside of gaming like YouTube and Twitch. For instance, YouTube is the No. 1 destination where nearly half of all teens are learning about new video games. Yet, as Stacy Tarver Patterson, head of brand strategy at Stagwell sibling Code and Theory, explained, even within the Gen Z group, there is a difference in gaming preferences and media consumption between younger teens (around age 13) versus older teens.

“It’s important for media buyers to look deeper into whether there are major demographic or behavioral fault lines that split the data,” Patterson said. “This is evidenced by looking at the most popular game communities on each platform, such as League of Legends on Twitch versus Minecraft on YouTube. There is a clear hardcore gamer versus casual gamer dynamic happening more distinctly amongst teens.”

Nick Miller, director of global media and agency services at consultancy Slalom, noted that commercial reach only gets agencies so far — they need to target a larger audience and analyze the user engagement of brand activities on each platform.

“Ultimately, media buyers and advertising strategists who support teen gaming targets will need to reassess their media mix across the different platforms and look at the budgets they have allocated,” Miller said.

By tapping into Moonrock’s product expertise and network of gamers, Gale’s aim is to get access to millions of gamers and activate a much broader audience.

“Through our business lens as a business agency, we’re going to be looking at the way that sales growth actually works into this,” James said. “This kind of integrated media approach to this [means it] extends all the way to the shopping aisle in the grocery store in some way or another.”

Earlier this year, Gale launched its innovation practice, Advance Party, to integrate emerging and innovative formats into its storytelling and growth for clients. In coming months, the agency said it expects to share more developments beyond this first partnership with Moonrock Labs.

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