gamification in marketing

Top 10 Marketing Gamification Cases You Won’t Forget (2023)

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Marketing Gamification is not just in your face. It’s in your head.

As a gamification consultant, I work with many different types of clients and projects in product, workplace, and marketing gamification. As time goes by, an interesting pattern arises based on the help they need from me:

  • Smaller startup clients usually want help with product gamification. This process has to do with creating a winning product that provides a rather addictive experience, where players naturally want to keep playing.
  • Mid-sized companies enlist my help for marketing gamification. The objectives here are to: attract potential new customers within a target market segment and get them actively engaged with their brand and products. This is also more focused on the discovery phase in my Octalysis Framework.
  • Fortune 500s and large companies usually shift their focus to workplace gamification. Their motive is often to train employees (in a way that feels effortless) and to cultivate a greater sense of solidarity within the internal team.

Marketing Gamification: Beyond Basic Loyalty Programs

Many people immediately think of marketing gamification as some type of loyalty program. But simply having this in place is not the silver bullet that will automatically solve all your challenges and concerns.

Even with loyalty programs (something that Gabe Zichermann sometimes even refers to as part of the definition of gamification), there are a few ways to do it right, and thousands of ways to do it badly.

In reality, there are vast creative possibilities involved in marketing gamification. To illustrate this, I will present ten classic real-life case examples. These examples are from an older period. Nevertheless, these classic examples remain timeless concepts and are worthy of examination.

Marketing Gamification Example #1: Nike+ Fuelband and Accessories

Nike launched this application in January 2012. And since then it has developed into a popular gamified sport. The company extended itself beyond its comfort zone as a well-known product brand one that actively fosters lifestyle changes by helping its customers keep themselves fit.

The most popular accessory so far is the Nike+ Fuelband, which is a bracelet with special technology that can monitor user movements. Participants must download the Nike+ App. From this point, they can track their workouts. Statistics (like the number of calories burned) are displayed to provide feedback.

Nike+ As Seen Through Octalysis

The strongest Core Drive that the Nike Fuelband utilizes is Development & Accomplishment (Core Drive 2), where they show users daily feedback on how close users are to their daily goals. Also, whenever they hit a goal or have a streak, an animated cartoon character jumps out and starts to celebrate in a hyper manner.

Also, the immediate feedback meets their need to feel CD3: Empowerment & Creative Feedback, another core drive within Octalysis.

Integrating Social Drives

The smart game designers of this product also included a social dimension to this game which has undoubtedly helped to expand awareness and demand for the Nike Fuelband.

Participants have the opportunity to challenge friends. Here we can see the aspect of CD5: Social Influence & Relatedness within the Octalysis model. And this provides a great incentive to use this application. In turn, it perpetuates a greater level of momentum in user engagement.

As the points are accumulated based on the distance traveled, the community is aware of who is ranked at the top of the leaderboard. These will be the individuals who trained more and earned a highly developed physique.

This is a very clever way to forge an association between a fit, slender body to Nike’s brand.

Results of the Nike+ Fuelband

In 2011 the number of players using Fuelband was 5 million. This is estimated to reach 11 million by the end of 2013.

Marketing Gamification Example #2: My Starbucks Reward

Starbuck‘s philosophy has always been focused on personal service in favor of consumers. Much of their business model is based on ambiance. The inside of each store is characterized by an inviting environment that is hip and upbeat. Customers are enticed to stay longer so that they can sit and enjoy their coffee or espresso.

How My Starbucks Reward Works

The brand used gamification tactics to enhance the Starbucks experience and to boost sales as well. Players register for My Reward through an application. Every time they purchase a Starbucks product, they accumulate stars (which look like cups that are graphically filled in).

But the game does not stop here. There are three “levels” depending on the degree of user loyalty. More frequent visits to a Starbucks store are awarded through an upgraded level. Examples of benefits include an extra cup of coffee, a birthday gift, or even offers designed specially for the customer.

Core Octalysis Drives

Within the Octalysis model, the Core Drive 2: Development & Accomplishment is a major source of motivation. Another element is Ownership & Possession (the possibility of receiving virtual goods, which is common to any loyalty program).


In 2012, the users of My Reward totaled about 4.5 million. The cards alone accounted for $3 billion in sales per year.

Marketing Gamification Example #3: McDonald’s Monopoly Game

McDonald’s succeeded in increasing their product sales by using gamification concepts derived from the classic game of Monopoly.

This promotion dates back to 1987. And it takes place entirely offline. When you buy certain products from McDonald’s, you will receive tickets. Each ticket represents a space on the Monopoly game board. The goal is to collect all the pieces of the same color to be eligible for a prize.

How Compelling Is the Mcdonald’s Monopoly Game?

One loyal customer made a YouTube video about this game and explained:

Every October I go through the McDonald’s drive-through just because of this silly game. They got me!

The alliance between brands seems to work well: In 2010, McDonald’s increased its sales by 5.6% in the USA through this program, with many people engaged in impulse buying just to get tickets.

Marketing Gamification Example #4: Coca-Cola’s Shake It

Coca-Cola is known to be at the forefront of developing creative and innovative product promotions.

You can see that all their commercials try to turn simple acts of drinking carbonized sugar water into an Epic Meaning & Calling (Core Drive 1) experience through magical kingdoms, happiness, and polar bears (but happy ones instead of the ones from Lost).

Here is an example of one of their campaigns which integrates old media, smartphones, and gamification.

How Coca-Cola’s Shake It Works

In Hong Kong, teenagers are offered a free and branded app for their phones. A television spot ran during the evening. During this time, fans are asked to run the app and shake their phones to win discounts and prizes from partners like McDonald’s.

In the evening, a spot was broadcast on television during which time it was possible to run the application and … begin to shake the smartphone in front of the TV!

Why Coca-Cola’s Shake It Is Incredibly Fun and Irresistible 

The Octalysis element of Unpredictability & Curiosity (Core Drive 7: What gift will I receive) is what makes this game hard to resist.

Coca-Cola aligns this campaign with its mission. The company succeeds in bringing happiness and optimism to the world, by creating advertisement that allows young people to interact enthusiastically with the brand.

Marketing Gamification Example #5: Magnum Pleasure Hunt

The chocolate company, Magnum has created a very exciting and novel campaign for the launch of its ice cream bar, Magnum Temptation.

Magnum Pleasure Hunt, The Epic Online Experience

With the support of partners like Citrine and YouTube, the brand created a digital online game that is reminiscent of Super Mario. However, the actual playing field is integrated throughout pages of the internet.

The adventure takes place across unique scenarios (e.g. car trip, hang gliding). Users accumulate scores and build their rankings as they collect bon bons. The game is finished as the players return to Magnum’s main site. Their bon bons turn into a Magnum Temptation bar.

Within the Octalysis model, players take Ownership (Core Drive 4) of their bon bons, become immersed in epic meaning (Core Drive 7: being heroes of their journey), and enjoy the feelings of Empowerment (Core Drive 3) and Accomplishment (Core Drive 2).

The Social Factor of the Magnum Pleasure Hunt

Awareness of this game was amplified through word of mouth on social media. On one particular day, Magnum Pleasure Hunt reached an impressive pinnacle as the most tweeted URL in the world.

Magnum’s game is doubly clever. It advertises its product and provides a window of exposure to its partner brands, guaranteeing them (partial) advertising.

Marketing Gamification Example #6: SeatPG Connection Game

Here is a campaign set in Italy. Seat PG is a telephone directory company and publisher of street maps. They used gamification to promote their newly developed mobile app which can be used to find information such as the best places to eat and job opportunities posted by companies.

The Seat PG Game

The brand developed a treasure hunt set in Italy. Players are grouped into teams of three to five to contend for the prize of 1,000 Euros raffled by the company. Users solve quizzes based on the brand throughout the game.

Each player is initially given a trial to decide whether they are interested in participating and want to keep playing. Their motivation is driven by the Octalysis elements of Empowerment of Creativity & Feedback (Core Drive 3) and Development & Accomplishment (Core Drive 2) as the competition wages on. A visual leaderboard fuels these drives as players receive constant feedback.

Results for the SeatPG Connection Game

Shortly after launch, Seat PG’s site received 15,000 visits. The game itself elicited more than 400 teams, all actively engaged in the brand.

Marketing Gamification Example #7: All eyes on S4

“Pranksvertising” is a promotional method that is growing as a marketing trend for major enterprises. One example is “All Eyes on S4.”
As you can see from the video, players are challenged to win a new-generation mobile phone simply by keeping their eyes on it for a certain period. They are challenged to avoid all types of outrageous distractions such as barking dogs, bickering couples, and motorcycles as a crowd gathers around the contestant.

The question that everyone is asking, after a level is passed is: what will happen now?

What Makes All Eyes on S4 So Compelling?

Various cornerstones of Octalysis come into play such as:

  • Empowerment and Accomplishment (Core Drive 3: through visual feedback)
  • Social Influence & Relatedness (Core Drive 5: through the growing audience)
  • Unpredictability & Curiosity (Core Drive 7: through the mischief that occurs to distract the players)

Here Samsung tests the will and resilience of the players, challenging them to overcome the “levels” of the game.

Brand Awareness as a result of All Eyes on S4

Samsung created an experience that increases its brand awareness on more than one level. Not only does this involve the contestants themselves, but also the secondary audience of spectators at the scene and online as well.

This is a great example of where gamification is used to create an extremely entertaining and immersive social experience.

Marketing Gamification Example #8: Heineken’s Star Player Game

Heineken has long been known as a company that can create highly engaging experiences for their consumers and online users.

The brand is an official sponsor of Champions League games. They decided to use gamification to actively engage fans throughout the event to increase awareness of Heineken.

How Heineken’s Star Player Game is Played

During the Champions League, users can download the Heineken app. While watching the game, they are asked predictive questions such as:

  • will the penalty be saved?
  • will the goal be made by the head?
  • will they score within 20 seconds?

Points are awarded for correct answers. During downtime, more points can be earned by answering other types of questions (e.g. trivia).

Heineken’s Innovative Display of Sponsorship

This is a great example where a sponsor can directly engage with fans during a sports game instead of just having their logo showcased on banners within the arena or through television spots.

Marketing Gamification Example #9: Steam Trading Cards

Steam is known as the platform of choice for the distribution of PC software. In January 2012, the number of subscribers surpassed 40 million and continues to grow.

Valve is an entertainment software company that develops video games. They designed a promotion to increase the number of hours spent on Steam and the volume of game sales. The premise of their strategy is based on the concept of collecting, which is an effective way to drive the enthusiasm of users.

How To Play Steam Trading Cards

It works very simply. People play their favorite software. But they can win cards when playing games that are part of the promotion. This is an example of Ownership & Possession (Core Drive 4) in the Octalysis framework.

Not all cards are assigned in this way. The player must also exchange cards in their possession with the other users to get the whole series. This adds a strong degree of Social Influence & Relatedness (Core Drive 5).

When a series is completed, the player can win a medal and goods related to the game (avatars, backgrounds, etc.). They may also win discounts on Steam games.

The system is currently restricted to a few Steam Games, but we hope it will be implemented soon into other games, to give better metrics to track the system.

Marketing Gamification Example #10: 4 Foods – Good 4 All

What Is 4 Foods Good 4 All?

4Food is the first fast food chain where you can create and share your sandwich creations. There is no real menu. The customers themselves make the sandwiches as they want. Users are invited to the site to create their combinations and then share them with the community.

On the site, it is possible to express preferences for certain sandwiches. The most popular choices rise to the top of the leaderboard, which is updated in real time. It includes not only the preferences for each meal but also the sales figures as well.

Why 4 Foods Good 4 All Works

4Food therefore presents a unique socially driven methodology to sell its products. Factors within Octalysis help explain the success of this experience. They include:

  • CD5: Social Influence & Relatedness
  • CD2: Development & Accomplishment
  • CD3: Empowerment of Creativity & Feedback

Making it to the top of the leaderboard is quite an accomplishment with votes of confidence from other sandwich lovers. The realization that one has created the best sandwich is something that participants take pride in.

Gamified Marketing Conclusion

The use of gamified techniques is a powerful strategy for companies to support the sale of their products.

The above examples not only illustrate innovative game design but also the results of happily engaged users who, in many cases were thrilled to share their experiences with their friends and family.

Care must be taken in applying gamification to one’s brand. Companies need to be aware that gamification is not a panacea. The experience must be planned carefully. The overall design requires specialized expertise that often relies on models such as Octalysis which can offer a high degree of reliability.

If you have seen other Gamified Marketing examples that got you engaged, please share in the comments below!

(Thanks to Mario Malkav Colombo of Alittleb. it for tremendously helping me on this post)

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47 thoughts on “Top 10 Marketing Gamification Cases You Won’t Forget (2023)”

  1. These are all examples of huge companies, with huge marketing budgets… I would love to see these concepts are applied to small business, or brand awareness content strategies.

  2. Hi Yu-kai, we’ve launched new marketing gamification tool – HoverSignal
    I would like to hear your feedback about it. If you want, we can grant you free lifetime access to it!


  3. This is an excellent compilation. I’d add WestJet to the list as another great example of a gamification marketing campaign. It’s to some degree similar to Samsung 4 campaign.

  4. Thank you for such an interesting read. I love looking at all the different successful Marketing campaigns and the things that went into making it so successful. This will help me in future projects

  5. Good sharing. Never experience Nike+ Fuel Band. But 3 years ago I tried Polar Beat. Initially it attracts me to upload my data and participate in the competition. I even created my own competition and invite people from other countries to join. I guess initially CD5 & CD2 and CD3 kicks in as I wondering who will join the competition i created. Now I am using Sony Smart-B Trainer & Samsung S-health. However, the above seems is more lifestyle gamification than marketing gamification to me. Personally, for marketing gamification, Heineken and Coke is awesome and engaging.

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