What are the keys to creating branded content in video games? How do marketers promote their products and services without alienating gamers?   

For Tom Edwards, vice president of digital strategy and innovation with The Marketing Arm, the answer lies in creating programs that provide natural and relevant integration within the genre of a game while offering utility back to the gamer. 

Below, Edwards shares five examples of breakthrough integration:  

Oakley: Authenticity
When you look at Oakley’s integration with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, the company takes advantage of integrating its real-life military products into the video game experience. The title receives the authenticity of a brand that top-tier military operatives actually use while, in turn, the brand is associated with a billion-dollar juggernaut.

Jeep: Digital to Physical
Chrysler Group LLC’s Jeep brand has a long history of game integration. The company recently released a series of Modern Warfare and Black Ops-themed jeeps that were marketed to consumers.

Jeep seamlessly integrates the vehicles into the gaming experience such as showing up in the game as part of a multiplayer map. Jeep supports the program through traditional media, and the brand leverages the reach of the franchise to drive sales.

Doritos: Product Unlocks
Frito-Lay’s Doritos brand has become a highly-relevant brand for gamers, from its position as a fuel for gamers to creating its own titles such as the Dash of Destruction game on the Xbox Live platform.

Doritos has done a great job of tying the purchase of its product into the sponsorship, meaning the more product you buy, the more impact a gamer could have in the form of an additional in-game experience (e.g., Halo: Reach – Honor the code campaign and Call of Duty Double XP "rank up your game” promotion). 

Hyundai: Downloadable Content That Extends Beyond Games
Hyundai recently added its Veloster model as downloadable content in Forza Motorsport 4. It then expanded the sponsorship by extending in-game time trials that awarded a Veloster to the winner with the best time.

Coca-Cola: Create Relevance
Coke has been a powerhouse in the video game space. Recently, the company’s NCAA Football execution in partnership with EA Sports allowed users to access a Coca-Cola Zero-branded team as downloadable content. Coke sponsored custom in-game content that allowed users to recreate historically compelling moments in the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa title. 

The brand also provides free downloadable content to enhance the experience for music games such as Guitar Hero and DJ Hero with new custom sponsored music. 

Coca-Cola Zero also has extended its reach beyond games with the Coca-Cola Zero Gaming Zone in partnership with MSN. The Gaming Zone features the latest gaming news, reviews and access to games, quizzes, cheats, trailers and exclusive contests.