A New Way to Connect

Image Credit: Animal-Crossing.com

Brands flock to Animal Crossing in an effort to educate, promote and raise awareness with consumers

Animal Crossing New Horizons is without a doubt one of the most popular brands of 2020. Launching in March, at the onset of the on-going pandemic, Animal Crossing has sold approximately 22.4 million units as of early August (Their, 2020). For those unfamiliar, Animal Crossing is a simulation game for the Nintendo Switch console where the user can create their own island paradise as well as visit others (friends, family, branded islands) via the internet. The creation possibilities are limitless, and many brands have taken notice of the marketing potential within this new, extremely popular digital world. 

Image Credit: Monterey Bay Aquarium

In the wake of social distancing and reduced capacity for physical consumer/brand interactions, Animal Crossing presents a unique platform which brands are using to remain relevant in the public eye. Monterey Bay Aquarium has recreated is physical location into the digital realm. The Aquarium’s social media team conducts live streams twice a week on Mondays and Wednesday where they educate their viewers about marine life and other fun science topics. The museum has more 18 episodes available to watch on both Twitch and Youtube. Their livestreams include guest scientists from museums around the country (Monterey Bay Aquarium, 2020). These streams are engaging and informative, and can be used as an additional source of virtual educational content for children remote learning this fall.

Branded content isn’t limited to the education, fashion and lifestyle brands are also using the platform to reach consumers.  As luxury brands tend to see a downturn during economic instability there is a need for innovative approaches to connect with consumers. Within Animal Crossing, fashion brands Marc Jacobs and Valentino have offered QR codes for branded in-game outfits. Both companies announced fashion lines within the game via Instagram in early May, with many others following their lead. Not enough? Animal Crossing saw its first high fashion virtual fashion show earlier this year, complete with designer looks and runway music (Yotka, 2020). You can check out the full video here.  


Outside of promoting products and brand awareness, there is a growing trend for bands to use their platforms to support awareness to social causes. Hellman’s Canada and Gillette Venus are two brands that are using Animal Crossing to do just that. Hellman’s, the Unilever-owned mayonnaise brand is encouraging players to be mindful of food waste.

Image Credit: Hellmann’s Canada Twitter Account

Hellman’s Animal Crossing campaign allows players to drop off their spoiled turnips and for each spoiled turnip the brand will donate to Second Harvest Food Rescue (Liffreing, 2020). Once players donate their turnips, they can enjoy Hellman’s island with all of its amenities. Their island also includes a bulletin board for tips on how to reduce food waste in real life. This is a great example of how brands can interact with consumer’s on important issues in a fun and creative way. For full campaign details check out Hellman’s Canada twitter account.

Image Credit: Gillette Venus Twitter Account

Gillette Venus launched is Skinclusive Animal Crossing content that allows players to change their avatar’s appearance by adding wrinkles, scars, acme, tattoos and more. Design codes are available on their website and the campaign is in full swing on their Twitter and Instagram pages. Gillette will also hold a live stream on Youtube on 31/Aug for where they plan to deliver a “Skinclusive conversation and fashion on a judgement-free beach” (Venusproducts, 2020).  

Animal Crossing has been widely successful following it’s launch, with many wondering if it will sustain it’s popularity after the pandemic. Regardless of the future, brands that are capitalizing on its potential for engagement are using the platform now to reach, connect, inspire and educate their customers. I can’t wait to read the inevitable future Marketing Case study that analyzes Animal Crossing in terms of its marketing applications and long-term impacts. 

Works Cited:

Monterey Bay Aquarium. (2020). Gamers and science nerds unite! Retrieved August 17, 2020, from https://www.montereybayaquarium.org/stories/aquarium-animal-crossing

Liffreing, I. (2020, May 05). Marc Jacobs and Valentino bring luxury to Animal Crossing with virtual outfits. Retrieved August 17, 2020, from https://adage.com/article/digital/marc-jacobs-and-valentino-bring-luxury-animal-crossing-virtual-outfits/2254941

Liffreing, I. (2020, July 15). 7 brands and agencies experimenting with custom Animal Crossing islands. Retrieved August 17, 2020, from https://adage.com/article/digital/7-brands-and-agencies-experimenting-custom-animal-crossing-islands/2267751

Liffreing, I. (2020, August 14). At Hellmann’s ‘Animal Crossing’ island, players donate spoiled turnips to fund meals in real life. Retrieved August 17, 2020, from https://adage.com/creativity/work/hellmanns-animal-crossing-island-players-donate-spoiled-turnips-fund-meals-real-life/2273791

Thier, D. (2020, August 06). ‘Animal Crossing: New Horizons’ Sold Even More Than You Think It Did. Retrieved August 17, 2020, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidthier/2020/08/06/animal-crossing-new-horizons-sold-even-more-than-you-think-it-did/

Venus Products. (2020). Retrieved August 17, 2020, from https://www.gillettevenus.com/en-us/animal-crossing

Yotka, S. (2020, May 25). The World’s First Animal Crossing Fashion Show Is Here. Retrieved August 17, 2020, from https://www.vogue.com/article/animal-crossing-fashion-show-reference-berlin

Image Credit: Featured Image is from Animal-Crossing.com

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