Brand Twitter is a consistently terrible presence in modern life. Though ultimately harmless when compared to climate collapse, income inequality, highly contagious viruses, or any of the other existentially terrifying threats that haunt our every moment, there’s something uniquely soul-deadening about the background hum of days where Steak-umm uses a corporate PR account to write about crushing alienation and start internet fights or Sunny Delight tweeting in the voice of someone who’s suicidally depressed.
As John Oliver points out in a new video, it doesn’t have to be this way. The Brands can continue advertising themselves without clawing at our already dangerously brittle nerves in the process. They can get back to making tie-in video games instead.
After bringing up the kind of Brand Twitter crimes mentioned above, Oliver suggests that they stop “regurgitating memes” on Twitter and return to old marketing ideas. He brings up 7-Up’s range of bygone Cool Spot games, Cheeto’s Chester Cheetah platformers, and Pepsi’s decision to make a digital adventure starring the heroic Pepsiman. He also mentions Chex Quest, a 1996 take on Doom that was packed into boxes of Chex, boosting sales of the cereal enormously in the process. (This, as we’ve illustrated before, is only a small sampling of the “advergame” genre.)
“I don’t want to see Quiznos tweeting ‘when the sandwich isn’t toasty’ or whatever the fuck,” Oliver says. “I want them to put me in the pilot seat of a 16-bit spaceship shaped like a hoagie that fires beef lasers at alien vegans. That’s what I want.”
He even provides a few free ideas to go along with his Quiznos pitch. There’s Orville Redenbacher: Space Marine, a chilling, hyperviolent SpaghettiO versus Chef Boyardee fighting game, and “Chips Ahoy! but you’re a grizzled cookie pirate sailing a sea of milk trying to track down Captain Crunch and nail his severed head to your mast.”
Sure, the KFC dating sim may be closer to what we’d actually get from these companies than any of Oliver’s suggestions, but even the worst branded video game is a sound alternative to the kind of social media advertising we currently get.
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