What could be a more memorable brand interaction than having your life saved? What could be more engaging? Axe stuck its neck out for me six years ago and I will not forget it. But no brand has come to my rescue since. I’m sure that lifesaving market would be a huge market. People are really touchy about their digital counterparts, so why don’t brands swoop in rescuing us every chance they get?
To make sense in all of this let me share my story.
It was a dark night in Las Vegas. Me and my brother were carefully covering the strip from opposite sides of the street. When the inevitable conflict began I found myself suppressed on the wrong side of the battlefield. I needed to get to my brother who was also seriously outgunned against the bad guys. I took a deep breath and then I dashed. That’s when all hell broke loose.
With my guns blazing I made steady progress for 10 meters or so, then I got blindsided by an enemy who flashbanged me off my feet. Certain that I would meet a miserable death, I stumbled around to find some sort of cover. The soundtrack for my struggle was an endless barrage of gunfire and my brother yelling “Are you down?”. I finally found something solid and crouched behind it to regain my poise and reload my weapons.
When the smoke began to clear and my brain stopped doing cartwheels, I hastily scanned my surroundings. The enemy was taking cover about a block away from us and they still fired at me with all they had. The only thing that was keeping me alive was Axe’s ad pillar. Every bullet fired at me tore glass debris out of the ad so I had to act quick. One by one I managed to take down the opposition while praying that the Axe ad would hold. When the last of the bad guys fell I nodded towards the now badly damaged brand ad; Axe saved my digital ass and I wasn’t going to forget it.
The thing that’s noteworthy in this whole ordeal is that usually brands are very reluctant to give themselves up for this kind of treatment. I can imagine the brand department going haywire if they saw their precious logo being shattered by gunfire. But when a brand saves lives it’s supposed to get a bit messy. It’s called immersion. You can’t place yourselves on a pedestal and ask for engagement, you have to be down in the dirt with your audience. You have to follow the same rules as the rest of the virtual world where you’re in.
I guess I was lucky the game engine of Rainbow Six: Las Vegas didn’t feature complete destruction of larger environmental elements. Had that Axe ad gone down so would’ve I.