Gamification Expert &

Behavioral Designer

Marketing Gamification: Old Spice launches the Game DIKEMBE MUTOMBO’S 4 1/2 WEEKS TO SAVE THE WORLD

New to Gamification? Check out my post What is Gamification & my Gamification Framework: Octalysis

Old Spice Does it Again

(Note: to play the actual game, scroll down until you find the source of the thrillingly annoying music, and then fullscreen it.)

In 2010, Old Spice swept across all media channels with their “Hello Ladies…” campaign. That was shared and spread on every platform possible, and was one of the most common conversation starters during the time (Of course, those conversation starters later moved on into Rebecca Black’s “Friday” and the wonderful Korean dance Gangnam Style).

Old Spice got men here and there to smell good for some time, but men being men, got back to their good old habits of NOT smelling like an adventure, baking gourmet cakes with the kitchens they made with their own hands,  and definitely NOT swan diving.

Old Spice needed to come up with something more epic for the manly men, not just for the women’s men, and so they again put together the smart minds of Wieden+Kennedy Portland to figure out something that would spread like wildfire again.

The WK folks thought….so what do men like? They like basketball, they like to be the hero and save the world, they like random humor….and, they like video games.

Mix Basketball, a World-saving Hero, Random Humor, and Video Games together, and what comes out of the blender is their newest masterpiece: DIKEMBE MUTOMBO’S 4 1/2 WEEKS TO SAVE THE WORLD (yes, it has to be all caps).

Marketing Gamification through a game to save the world

DIKEMBE MUTOMBO’S 4 1/2 WEEKS TO SAVE THE WORLD is a 8-Bit styled game where users control the Basketball Legend Dikimbe Mutombo to prevent the 2012 end of the world (according to the Mayan’s calendar) from happening by accomplishing small quests that eventually leads to carving up more dates on the Mayan calendar so we can delay humanity’s extinction. At least until the day we invent self-combing hair.

Actually, I’m not sure how the small quests have anything to do with carving the Mayan calendar, but those quests are always relevant to the times: from getting people to stop dancing Gangnam Style so they can vote (with the boss fight being the State of Ohio), to getting rid of a fluffy toy called Blurgies while playing It’s Thanksgiving by Nicole Westbrook, a successor of Rebecca Black).

Of course, we don’t know what will happen next because each stage only unlocks one week at a time (explained later).


Below is the analysis of the campaign through my Complete Gamification Framework called Octalysis:

Dikimbe Mutombo Gamification from Old Spice


As you can see, DM4.5WTSTW (this is my new abbreviation) has a strange rocket shape, as it scores incredibly high in Epic Meaning & Calling, Unpredictability & Curiosity, and Scarcity & Impatience, but very low on most others. Because of that, it earns itself an Octalysis score of 260 (which is almost as high as Twitter!)

Lets look at how they appeal to the 8 Core Drives:

1) Epic Meaning & Calling

This is what DM4.5WTSTW did really, really well. It explains to the user WHY he (or she) should play the game. It’s not for the user’s enjoyment, nor for saving some virtual game world. It’s for saving the real world everyone lives in.

By adding the game mechanic Narrative (#10) and Humanity Hero (#27), players are now on the journey to save mankind as a basketball star.

Of course, no one REALLY believes that they can save the world this way, but the Narrative is just strong enough for people to think, “Oh okay. Just for laughs, let’s see what I need to do to ‘save the world.'” This gets them through the Discovery and the Onboarding Phase of a Game till the point where you hit stage 1 and realize your job is to get people to vote.

At this point, the player thinks, “Oh yea. Voting is pretty important. My favorite candidate just won/lost the election, so its definitely important that EVERYONE votes.” And with this mindset, you get yourself all the way through to the Scaffolding phase of the game.

2) Development & Accomplishment

DM4.5WTSTW isn’t very strong here, which is surprising as most gamification campaigns focus on this the most (Note: the GAME itself is not gamified, but the marketing campaign is). It vaguely keeps score of your performance, but besides winning and dying, there is not a lot of emphasis on how well you are progressing besides win-state count and stage progression.

Towards the end, it hints at a leaderboard by having you type in your initials, but then afterwards, when you expect to see how well you have done against others (ideally your Facebook friends, but that’s perhaps asking too much), it ignores the entire thing and jumps into world-changing graphics. If there’s no braggable record, there’s nothing to share.

3) Empowerment of Creativity & Feedback

DM4.5WTSTW scores decently here, mostly because games themselves have an instant advantage of giving users Real-time Control (#41) of a character in any the user wants to accomplish his/her goals.

Of course, this game itself doesn’t require a lot of skill, but it provides Instant Feedback (#12) to how well the player is doing. It also integrates a bit of the game technique Plant Picker (#11) where users are given the WHAT they need to do and meaningful choices to do it.

4) Ownership & Possession

This is something DM4.5WTSTW does very poorly on. In no part of the game does the player feel like he has ownership over anything. There is no account so the game doesn’t remember anything, nothing happens after you enter you initials, and there’s nothing you can really customize.

The only thing that provides a hint of ownership is simply a tiny Learning Curve (#6), where players feel like they are acquiring some skills to play the game better. Of course, that’s not too valuable to anyone beyond the 5 minutes of playing.

5) Social Pressure

DM4.5WTSTW also scores very poorly for this Core Drive, which is counterintuitive based on their objectives. The only thing that vaguely resembles some social element, is the ability to share the link on Twitter, Facebook, or embed the game on your blog like I did below. WK did not focus on WHY people would provide social pressure to their friends to play the game too besides novelty (which is summed up in Core Drive 7)

6) Scarcity & Impatience

Now DM4.5WTSTW does very well on this Black Hat Gamification technique, and it mainly does that through Options Pacing (#37) where it prevents people from playing more stages until the weekly countdown is up.

When you complete a stage, the next thing you want to do is to complete the next stage. By preventing you from playing the second stage, DM4.5WTSTW forces you to think about it all week with a “yet to do” item on your mind. Scarcity feeds on people’s Impatience, causing them to check back irrationally even when they know the allotted time hasn’t passed yet (and of course, this impatience is what causes people to buy virtual goods with real money).

WK may have done this for other practical reasons too, including developing the game as the weeks go by, and making sure its incorporating the latest fad to keep things interesting. Nevertheless, this was very well played.

7) Unpredictability & Curiosity

This is where WK consistently demonstrates the most mastery in. During the Discovery and Onboarding Phase of DM4.5WTSTW, people play the game due to Epic Meeting & Calling, but as players enter the Scaffolding Phase, Unpredictability & Curiosity takes over in the form of funny and random conversations as well as Mischief (#51).

Players are always wondering, “What’s going to happen next? Is he going to say something funny? Is he going to eat the turkey? Is the boss going to be Rebecca Black??” and that makes them want to continue on playing to see the next stage, as well as the Win-State Animations.

8) Loss & Avoidance

Similar to Ownership and Possession, DM4.5WTSTW doesn’t do too much here as there are no actions users take to avoid a loss. The only mechanics (not counting “the end of the world”) that people focus on is death prevention, which mostly results in Progress Loss (#81), where users loses the 2 minutes they spent getting all the way up to the boss. Not too big of a driving factor.

Actionable Improvements based on Octalysis

As you can see from the brief analysis above, there are a TON of things that could make DM4.5WTSTW more engaging, viral, and addicting.

A quick list is below:

  1. Show a leaderboard that allows players to share and compare with their friends
  2. Have a better Onboarding Process with a pop-up that shows the control keys for each game (so people don’t just get stuck on moving and clicking the finger for 8 seconds)
  3. Allow the user to have a little bit more customization so they feel ownership of the game (even just a shirt color change, or even unique hairstyles makes it more interesting.)
  4. Consider a 2P mode (or #22 Group Quest) where a person can invite a friend to play Science the Bear and complete a mission together. Perhaps there is a bonus stage where in order to see the final animation, you need to get a friend to play a fighting game against you (Dikembe vs Science the Bear perhaps) and only the winner of this fight will see the end animation with funny dialogues.
  5. On a similar theme, create Easter Eggs (#30) that users can discover (hidden features or dialogues) and tell others about.
  6. Create a better Visual Grave (#38) and Weep Tune (#39) experience when the user dies, perhaps have Dikembe say a few funny lines like, “OO NOO! Dikembe can no longer save the world any longer finger because player is making too many finger mistakes…”
Perhaps we may see a few of these implemented by WK as the weeks go by.

The Game

The embeddable game has been taken off, but here is the link to the Game:

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11 responses to “Marketing Gamification: Old Spice launches the Game DIKEMBE MUTOMBO’S 4 1/2 WEEKS TO SAVE THE WORLD”

  1. I appreciate the detailed analysis too. It is a fine concrete example of applying your model and includes feedback & constructive ideas for improvement.

  2. I asume then the # are part of Octalysis 3er level, isn’t it?

    Thanks for the analysis you have done, it gives more insight for my own use of Octalysis to check my own game projects.

    I haven’t found any article on 3er level yet… but I have lots to read already 🙂

    Stay awesome!

  3. Yu-kai Chou Ryan Julyan Hi sorry I have another one Visual Grave was said to be GT #38 where as you have previously said it to be  Desert
    Oasis (One Prominent Visual Item) are they the same thing? as they sound similar?

  4. Hello Please confirm what game technique #11 is, here you have told us that it is General’s Carrot however in other posts you have mentioned game technique #11 is Plant Picker/Meaningful Choices. Please confirm which it is?
    Also Game technique #42 was said to be Progress Loss however in other posts you have said it to be Monitoring.

    Please advise?

  5. Hey Yukai, Great analysis. I actually thought your frame work is amazing, and obviously the recommendations were right on point. Where do the #numbers come from. I was a little lost there. I sent this post of to a group who needed some direction on their game creation, so we’ll see how that turn out. Keep it up!

    • @anthonyctaylor Thanks Anthony for your endorsement! The points for Level 1 Octalysis is the square of the value for each core drive added together, but in Level 3 Octalysis is becomes a bit more complicated than that. Hope all is well!

      • Ahh… Now the totals make sense. Don’t know why I didn’t figure that out on my own. Must be my brain is a bit full and mushy from all the info I’ve been taking in. 🙂

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