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Thece’s Miracle-Gro Campaign: A Fresh Approach To Influencer Marketing In Gaming

Thece, a martech startup, has partnered with Miracle-Gro to launch an innovative marketing campaign that challenges gamers to create virtual gardens and display their skills in their favorite games. The campaign, which is the first of its kind, aims to reach a younger, more environmentally conscious audience through popular farming simulator games like Stardew Valley and The Sims 4.

Thece's Miracle-Gro Campaign: A Fresh Approach To Influencer Marketing In Gaming

Zachary Rozga, Founder and CEO of Thece, explains how the collaboration with Miracle-Gro came about: “We went out as customer discovery and talked to a lot of agency leaders that sit in the innovation space to sort of get their take on it.” Initially, some agencies were skeptical, but Mediahub, part of IPG, showed strong interest and suggested Miracle-Gro as a potential client as there was strong alignment with the brand’s goal of inspiring new and existing gardeners by tapping into new markets, like the virtual gaming community, to encourage folks to get outside. 

This challenge itself is straightforward. Gamers must complete three required tasks and one optional task within their favorite farming simulator game. “You have to have a garden or create a new one. Plant plants, use the fertilizer, and show off that your garden grew and that it was beautiful,” Rozga explains. Participants must record themselves completing these tasks for a minimum of two minutes and a maximum of five, and submit the video to Thece’s platform. Gamers who complete the challenge are eligible for a prize from Miracle-Gro. 

Thece’s partnership with Miracle-Gro showcases the potential for innovative marketing strategies that bridge the gap between virtual and real-life experiences. By tapping into the growing popularity of farming simulator games, the campaign not only reaches a younger, more environmentally conscious audience but also educates them about the benefits of using Miracle-Gro products in their real-life gardens.

Influencer Selection Strategy: Cultivating Authenticity and Engagement

Exploring the selection strategy for influencers involved in the campaign, Rozga states: “We knew creators were going to be really important to tell the audience, ‘Yes, this is real. Yes, this is cool. And yes, it’s for you’.”

For the Miracle-Gro marketing campaign, Thece has focused on tapping into the casual and cozy gaming culture. Rozga explains that Thece sought out gaming influencers who are part of this community and also touch upon topics like gardening, organic living, and healthy living. “We didn’t lean in super heavy on Minecraft because Minecraft is a little bit of an outlier when it comes to the farming simulator. It’s not as core as it is to like a Stardew Valley or a Sims 4,” he says. The team found a significant number of Stardew Valley creators who fit the profile they were looking for, and as a result, they leaned heavily on the Stardew Valley community for this campaign.

Another key aspect of Thece’s approach is the inclusion of multiple game titles in the challenge. Rather than focusing on a single game, like many traditional challenges, Thece designs its campaigns to be accessible to a wider audience by allowing participants to choose from a variety of farming simulator games. This breaks the paradigm of game-specific challenges and ensures that the campaign reaches the largest possible audience.

While it’s still early to report on specific numbers, Rozga shares that the initial reactions to the campaign have been overwhelmingly positive. “The commentary around the challenge, around the concept, and around Miracle-Gro doing this has been resoundingly positive,” he says. Live streams and Instagram posts from influencers have generated curiosity and excitement among their followers, with some expressing surprise and interest in the concept of playing a game and receiving a real-world reward. “The initial reaction has been either positive or curious right now,” Rozga concludes. 

When discussing what Thece hopes participants will take away from the challenge, Rozga distinguishes between two classes of participants: creators and audience members. For creators, Thece has made it a requirement that they not only promote the challenge but also submit to it themselves. “We didn’t want them then going out and telling people, ‘Hey, this thing’s cool and awesome. Just check it out, it’s so easy’. Like anybody can do it and then them not have done it,” he explains. This approach creates social proof and authenticity, which are core values for Thece’s campaigns.

For audience members, the Miracle-Gro challenge offers a unique opportunity to participate in a challenge and receive recognition and rewards for their efforts. Unlike typical YouTube or TikTok challenges, where participants may share their accomplishments with friends or family but receive no tangible feedback or rewards, Thece’s platform allows every person who sees the challenge to submit their own video and potentially earn a prize. “You get to be a YouTuber for a couple of minutes. That’s really one of the things that is a value to this,” Rozga says. Additionally, participants who create exceptional content may have the opportunity to work more closely with the brand in the future.

Thece's Miracle-Gro Campaign: A Fresh Approach To Influencer Marketing In Gaming
Thece's Miracle-Gro Campaign: A Fresh Approach To Influencer Marketing In Gaming

Twin Galaxies: Ensuring Integrity and Fairness in Thece’s Innovative Marketing Campaigns

Thece has partnered with Twin Galaxies, a platform dedicated to adjudicating video game achievements, to ensure the integrity of their innovative marketing campaign with Miracle-Gro. The platform, which has been around since the 1980s, was modernized in the 2010s to become a cloud-based system. When participants submit their videos for the Miracle-Gro challenge, they must upload original footage directly to the Twin Galaxies platform, rather than linking to content on social media or YouTube. Once submitted, the videos are reviewed by a large panel of dedicated video gamers who are trained to catch cheating. “99.99% accuracy occurs every single time somebody submits to one of these video game challenges,” Rozga states. The system is highly precise, and submissions that do not follow the rules explicitly are rejected.

Rozga emphasizes the importance of objectively measured challenges, as the platform cannot accommodate subjective assessments like “who wore it best” or “who was the best influencer.” Additionally, all challenges must be based on skill rather than chance, meaning that contests like online slots, where rewards are a function of luck or money spent, are not viable.

Another interesting aspect of the Twin Galaxies platform is that every participant in the Thece campaign can also become an adjudicator. By clicking on the “in process” button next to a submission, users can be onboarded to review whether the entry meets the specified objectives. The system includes rewards for correct assessments and penalties for incorrect ones, ensuring a sophisticated and thorough peer review process for each video submission. While the adjudication feature is not currently available for the Miracle-Gro campaign, Rozga’s explanation highlights the robust measures in place to maintain the integrity of the competition. 

Authenticity: The Key to Successful Influencer Marketing in the Gaming Industry

In today’s creator economy, authenticity is paramount for successful influencer marketing campaigns, as emphasized by Rozga. Gaming communities, known for their critical nature, often call out brands that attempt to enter the space without a genuine understanding of the culture. “It’s not uncommon for brands to get trolled very hard for doing something in gaming,” he notes, leading to hesitation among new brands to explore gaming as a marketing channel.

Thece’s campaign with Miracle-Gro, however, showcases how brands can create authentic experiences benefiting all involved parties. “We can create an authentic experience that has nothing but net positives for everybody involved,” Rozga states. By tailoring challenges to specific games and audiences, Thece allows brands to engage with consumers in a natural and rewarding manner. The goal of these campaigns, he stresses, is not immediate product sales but rather celebrating the gaming community’s passions and interests. “Initially, it’s like, ‘Hey, we just want to celebrate you and your passions in what you do,” he explains. This approach enables brands to capture attention and build awareness without aggressive sales tactics.

For influencers and creators, participating in these challenges provides fresh content ideas, essential in an industry demanding constant innovation. “Creators want to do this because they want to be a part of this challenge system,” Rozga states. Moreover, creators sponsoring their own challenges gain access to user-generated content for future use. Thece’s influencer marketing approach in the gaming space creates a positive feedback loop benefiting all stakeholders. Publishers gain exposure, brands establish authentic connections with target audiences, creators find new ways to engage followers, and consumers are rewarded for their passion and participation.

“Really, our goal is to provide experiences that celebrate everybody’s interests,” Rozga emphasizes. As the Miracle-Gro campaign progresses, Thece hopes more influencers will embrace this innovative marketing approach in the gaming industry, leading to a new era of authentic and engaging influencer collaborations.

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David Adler is an entrepreneur and freelance blog post writer who enjoys writing about business, entrepreneurship, travel and the influencer marketing space.

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