With its launch last March, Animal Crossing: New Horizons has ushered in an era of promotional marketing campaigns with brands you’d never expect. The game's customizability options allow players to create unique designs and share them with others, making their avatar and space within the game special and entirely their own. Coincidentally, this also makes for a great marketing moment. Think branding propaganda (i.e., posters and t-shirts) but digital. In all seriousness, brand campaigns have adjusted quickly to the Nintendo Switch game's popularity and have put their own twist on it, using it to promote either the brand itself or new products. These are some of the most interesting ones I’ve come across:
- Biden Harris 2020
Starting off with the most recent (and the one I least expected to see): Biden Harris 2020. In an interview with The Verge, Christian Tom, the director of digital partnerships for the Biden campaign, said, “...This is one way we are finding new creative and innovative ways to meet voters where they are and bring our supporters together.” In a time where it’s difficult to hold events and fundraisers at a safe distance, this is a fun alternative that energizes younger voters to be politically active. Players can scan the design QR codes through the Nintendo Switch Online app to access four different designs to decorate their islands with.
- Gillette Venus
Gillette Venus introduced the Skinclusive Summer Line on ACNH, which gives players more inclusive options! By using their design codes, players can unlock a fashion line that helps recreate the look of your real skin. The designs include eight skin tones and 19 different skin types that can be combined to show skin with cellulite, scars, hair, acne, vitiligo, tattoos, or psoriasis, for example. I love the focus on inclusivity from this campaign and how it actually helps people to customize their avatars in a way that makes them feel represented.
- Cottonelle with T-Pain
Cottonelle partnered with avid ACNH fan T-Pain to promote their line of digital patterns, which players can use to decorate their bathrooms. As fans were encouraged to share screenshots of how they decorated their islands with the designs using the hashtag #DownThereCare, T-Pain would select random players' islands to visit. Players can access 12 different designs using the QR codes.
- Marc Jacobs & Valentino
Marc Jacobs and Valentino partnered with Instagram profile Animal Crossing Fashion Archive to create clothing design codes for players to dress their avatars in! The designs are inspired by their Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter '20 lines. Six Marc Jacobs designs and 20 Valentino designs can be accessed using the QR code scanner.
- The Met
The Met has made it possible to bring classic works of art right into your home! Your ACNH island home, that is. You can now scroll through The Met's art collection, find a piece that speaks to you, and when you click on the share button, the signature Animal Crossing leaf icon will come up! Once you click on the leaf it'll automatically create a QR code that you can use to bring the piece into your game. I'll finally be able to decorate my home with a Van Gogh!
Animal Crossing: New Horizons has proven to be a game that not only bonds communities and inspires creativity, but also has the potential to create a marketing platform for different campaigns. It's fun to see your favorite brands engaging with the game and producing designs to customize your island with. It's just another way you can make your island a little more you.