Blue Girl joins in web fun for market gains

By David Evans

HONG KONG: Korean beer brand Blue Girl is using the interactive power of the internet to support its offline marketing activities and reinforce its brand image.

Through a series of online games available on its website, the brewer is also hoping to bolster interest in its on-site beer promotions at bars and sponsorship of major sporting events.

The latest online game 'Beer hunter' ties in with the group's TVC featuring sand surfers in Australia. It joins four other interactive games Thirsty Tennis, Goalkeeper, Beer Stack and Action Drinker.

"At the moment, it is giving people a reason to come to the website and learn a little bit more about Blue Girl beer, what it is, and what it's got to offer." explained Napoleon Biggs, chief guru of sales and marketing, Web Guru Asia - the company behind the site's design.

"It's to reinforce the brand in terms of what it's doing. There are the TV commercials that we try and link to the website, or some ground event sponsorship."

In the latest game, players must negotiate their dune buggy through a series of obstacles while picking up beer tokens along the way. Top scores are recorded and ranked which in turn ensures a hard core of competitive gamesters regularly pay return visits to the site.

Peter Steyn, Hong Kong director for research company Nielsen//NetRatings, said beverage companies have struggled to harness the power of the internet for promotional purposes. He blames this on a lack of dynamicism in the communications strategy for beverage products.

"Beverage companies have had dull sites. They were not really interactive, unlike other products." He said.

Steyn said research revealed web users needed a reason to visit a site and interactive sites generally received a higher number of visitors. "Games are very popular on the internet. If you can tie up beer entertainment with a product such as Blue Girl, not only does it attract people to the website and make them more aware of the brand, but it also adds a fun entertainment angle to the Blue Girl brand." he said.

The Blue Girl website was launched in '99 during the dotcom boom.

Biggs said that initially, the brewer showed some reticence over the value the web could add to a marketing campaign. Until then, beverage sites traditionally focused on topics such as how the product was made and the company profile. The site also includes wallpapers, prizes, product purchases, and a newsletter on events and on-site promotions.

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