Pixelberry, a game studios based in San Fran, contacted Playmob to construct a campaign to raise awareness of cyberbullying, and where to get help, in their game, High School Story. This was triggered by one of the players getting in touch with Pixelberry to say they were going to end their life, because of cyberbullies. The studio quickly found help for the player however, Pixelberry thought, if this was happening to one player, it will be happening to many more.
When Pixelberry approached Playmob, the goal of the campaign was to 1) weave a story into the game around cyberbullying, educating players on the issues and where to get help and 2) to raise money to support cyberbullying charities.
Playmob had recently partnered with Cybersmile, a UK based charity supporting those who are victims and at risk or cyberbullying. Cybersmile had signed up to the Playmob platform to find partners to help them raise funds for their cause - to open helplines and support those who need help, and raise awareness of the dangers of cyberbullying.
The 3 partners worked on a succesful campaign in the game High School Story, creating a custom storyline, selling an in-app purchase of which a % went to the charity to open up a new 24 hour helpline and attracted supporters globally to get behind the cause.
The key strategy was to implement a campaign in existing game High School Story. The game had an existing player/fan base and is built around storylines that the player will play through and make decisions. The theme is set at school, where players create their own world around their school and activities and friends - like a fantasy Sim style game.
Cybersmile who have a lot of educational content and are the experts in the space of cyberbullying and cybersafety, created the content for a storyline, which the Pixelberry copywriters created into an engaging storyline for the players to play.
Playmob worked with both parties to create an in-game item which was sold to players - this was a bundle of coins and rings (the games soft currency) and a flag showing the Cybersmile logo, for players to show their support. Playmob also constructed the campaign - the text and player messaging, to ensure consistency and transparency.
Once the in-game elements were arranged, Playmob worked with each party to agree a marketing plan, which included; social media execution, PR, blog, whitepaper and case study. Cybersmile also have One Direction as ambassadors so many of the One Direction network promoted the campaign on social media too, and even ran a competition for players, allowing them to win tickets to see One Direction in concert.
This campaign was truly unique as 2 worlds that never co-existed before - games and charity - were brought together to make a big impact. Digital resources were utilised to raise awareness of the very serious core message which was being told - online safety. The contradictions in this campaign are what made it extremely effective, for game and for charity, and impactful - we were saving lives.
A parent even sent in a letter to Pixelberry detailing how their daughter had been badly affected by cyberbullying to the point of not being herself, and because of this campaign, her daughter was getting help and support and had returned to her happy normal self. This campaign saved lives.
The High School Story/Cybersmile campaign was due to run for 4 weeks, but due to it's engagement and success, it ran for 15 months. Due to this campaign, Cybersmile have gone on to work further in the games industry and Pixelberry have run campaigns to raise awareness of eating disorders, the Global Goals, water and reducing the gender gap in engineering.
Overall the campaign raised $330k for Cybersmile, allowing the charity to open a 24 hour helpline to support victims of cyberbullying. The helpline was receiving over 100 calls per week from players of the game - as they found out where to go for help. And the quest/storyline was played 8.5 million times.
In the first month, the game jumped from 60th position to 15th in the app store, and many players were so engaged they were buying items for the first time and playing for longer - increasing net revenue and life-time value.
The campaign was a true example of 'shared value' and making an enormous impact on the lives of young people, and saving lives. Utilising media and content, where people are already, and providing information to players, on their terms, created a highly succesful campaign which has become the poster child of in-game campaigns in the games industry.
Playmob were proud to partner and orchestrate such a highly succesful campaign which has also allows the other parties to explore more in games and charity. The campaign set out to raise awareness and raise funds, and make a positive impact on lives and this is exactly what it achieved.
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