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Barclaycard courts iPhone users with branded mobile game

July 6, 2010

If you look closely, you can see Mobile Commerce Dailys office building

If you look closely, you can see Mobile Commerce Daily's office building

British credit card and loan provider Barclaycard is targeting iPhone and iPod touch users with the launch of the free Rollercoaster Extreme branded mobile game.

Built by Dare and game developer Fishlabs and inspired by the successful TV ad, Rollercoaster Extreme sends players on a high-speed ride through the Big Apple. The mobile game, intended to court tech-savvy city-dwellers ages 20-35, is being promoted via mobile advertising and a sweepstakes.

This is not the financial services giant’s first foray into the mobile space.

Last year, Fishlabs presented a successful adaptation of another Barclaycard TV ad, Waterslide Extreme. After just a few months, the game had 10 million downloads from the App Store (see story).

Mobile Commerce Daily’s Dan Butcher interviewed Hannah Deans, senior digital and new media manager at Barclaycard, Northampton, England. Here is what she had to say:

What is Barclaycard’s strategy behind the launch of the Rollercoaster Extreme game for iPhone and iPod touch?
Rollercoaster Extreme has been created as a follow-up to the highly successful Waterslide Extreme game, which was launched in 2009.

To this day Waterslide Extreme remains the most successful branded free application ever released with over 14 million downloads to date.

This second game, Rollercoaster Extreme, was created as part of a through the line campaign to promote Barclaycard contactless technology.

In the original TV ad, on which the application is based, the main character enjoys a hassle-free journey to work on a rollercoaster, riding high above the clutter and congestion of the world below.

The iPhone game concept was created in order to extend this theme and offers customers the chance to engage with the rollercoaster concept in an interactive way.

It takes the TV commercial’s role of brand affinity and turns it into real customer engagement as they can create their own ‘rollercoaster’ experiences with this game.

Additionally the iPhone application provides an innovative new vehicle for Barclaycard to reach and engage with a much broader audience globally.

People across the world who play the game will get their high scores fed into a global leaderboard on the Barclaycard Facebook page, with the top scorers having the potential to win £50,000. This creates interaction and innovation on a global level.  

What is the target demographic?
This campaign is targeted at Barclaycard’s key audience of what they describe as “cosmopolitan aspirers.”

They are 20-35 urbanites who are tech- and marketing-savvy. They want to be at the cutting edge of things—arts, culture and fashion—and seek out brands that give them the edge over their peers.

They’re confident but dependent on technology and use it to organize their work and social life and get more enjoyment from content.

What challenges does Fishlabs address for Barclaycard? What was Dare’s role?
Dare created the basic iPhone game idea and the designs, while Fishlabs brought in its expertise in making the game play most addictive and brought the game to life with the build.

How is Barclaycard branding integrated into the game? Are there any Barclaycard promotions or calls-to-action?
Barclaycard has managed to integrate branding throughout the game.

This includes basic branding with the logo appearing throughout as well as a news and info page which links to various Barclaycard sites such as Facebook and YouTube.

There is also a call-to-action to “find out more about Barclaycard” at the end of the game, which links to a global landing page.

There are also more indirect ways for gamers to participate with the Barclaycard brand and the other digital platforms they have.

Once users have finished the game they can post their scores onto their personal Facebook wall through Facebook Connect, which automatically then posts a link back to them to the Rollercoaster Extreme tab on Facebook.

There is also a leader board competition being run on the Barclaycard Facebook page, where the highest scorers from around the world will be invited to compete in a final in Las Vegas for the chance to win £50,000.

Competition information is displayed in the game while users post their high scores, and they can also access competition details by clicking on calls-to-action available in the game to go through to our Facebook Tab.

Barclaycard officially launched the game at the Wireless Festival in Hyde Park on July 2-4.

Full-screen demonstrations were played throughout the festival and there will be a dedicated area for people to play the game and place their score on the leader board.

The highest ranking from the weekend will win an iPad.

How will Barclaycard get the word out about this iPhone game (i.e. marketing tactics)?
There is a digital advertising and social media seeding strategy in place to promote the game and the competition around the game.

Last year’s experience taught Barclaycard that the best place to advertise the game was in mobile advertising so is consequently where a lot of the advertising is.

Dare and Walker Media aimed to maximize reach by seeding content across the established social platforms—Facebook, YouTube and Twitter—tapping into the Barclaycard core fan base, whilst supplementing this with a pre-launch and launch phased approach to seeding, involving key community influencers early and keeping their levels of interest peaked across the campaign.

There are two flights of ads on mobile Web—one to launch the game and the other to promote the leader board competition.

Also, Fishlabs reaches out to its media partners in the gaming and iPhone space to spread the word.

Final take

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Dan Butcher is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily and Mobile Marketer. Reach him at

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