Marketing: War or Warcraft?

I’ve been hopeless about blogging lately and I apologise for even mentioning it, as this constitutes blogging about blogging.

I’ve been meaning to write a long and informed post about this theme but I don’t seem to be doing it. So I’ll write a short one and see if more follows later.

There’ve been some good posts around the blogosphere about the limits of the analogy of marketing as warfare – where we have campaigns, look for impact, outmanoeuvre the enemy etc. James has chronicled this pretty well.

Well, I’ve been thinking there might be something to learn from World of Warcraft. What if there is more to learn from WoW than from seeing marketing as war?

OK, this is in part a desperate rationalisation of my own intermittent addiction to this massively multiplayer online game. But WoW is also a great example of a brand that lets the players do a huge amount of the creation of the experience. Part of its allure is that it introduces infinite play by engaging the brains of its participants. There’s lots of infrastructure, but it’s my fellow players that make it compelling to me. And I’m happy to pay each month for the chance to play with them on WoW’s playground.

If I just think about what I learn about management styles just by forming parties to complete WoW quests, I realise how much there is to learn in that playground. And don’t get me started on the parallels between the bizarre Pavlovian impact of “levelling up” in WoW and getting the next rung on the ladder in a frequent flyer programme. And what those programmes seem to be missing that WoW seems to get. (Clue: Guilds)

But time is short, so let’s consider this a starter for ten. Maybe there’s a podcast in it.

3 thoughts on “Marketing: War or Warcraft?

  1. Robert Paterson

    Hey Johnnie!

    Maybe all the new games have something to say – all the good ones allow the creation of a world – that is why they engage in a time when attention is scarce

    Michael Goldhaber writes about the Attention economy – his point = all economies are based on scarcity. What is scarce toady in our noisy world is not more data or content – it is approaching infinite but attention. Ads get it by being even noisier. But the new games get it by giving you a world and Guilds to play with

    Is there a pony here?

  2. Johnnie Moore

    Marketing is not war – competition is war. If anything marketing should be more like diplomacy, though the analogy is fraught with dangers.

    As for the gaming analogy, I’m very sceptical (and yes I listened to the ito-lemeur podcast ages ago) and would need conclusive evidence that the mental state of people partcipating in Second Life, WOW or whatever parallel universe is the same as that which they employ in the real world.


    Hi John. I welcome your scepticism and yes, WoW is a parallel universe. On the other hand, the people playing it are the same human beings and in my experience they exhibit a lot of very human behaviours in the way they engage.

    I’d also say I would use reflections on WoW more as stimulus for thinking than as concrete proof of things.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.