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Let’s take a trip to the ancient past—the 1990s, if you will. In that decade, breakfast consumers digging through their boxes of Chex in the morning might have found a CD-ROM. If they inserted it into the disk drives on their computers—we told you it was ancient!—they gained access to an odd and charming, nonviolent, first-person shooter game called Chex Quest. Players used an animated piece of Chex cereal as their avatar, and this hero was joined by compatriots, in the shape of the other ingredients (e.g., pretzels, breadsticks) often appearing in Chex Mix.

The game was more a cult hit than a cultural phenomenon, but it represented an early and successful example of branded gaming opportunities. It also attracted some loyal fans, and those fans still ask about it sometimes. Seeing an opportunity to achieve a nostalgic connection and engagement with its consumers, Chex therefore decided to reintroduce Chex Quest, in a high-tech version, on the online Steam gaming platform. The quest is similar, but the modern version provides a multiplayer mode, high-definition graphics, and a split screen option. Codes available on packages of Chex cereals and snack mixes also will allow players to unlock special features and additional characters.

Even if some of the details have changed, the goal of the marketing initiative is the same. By playing Chex Quest, consumers are encouraged to interact with the brand. If that interaction involves a purchase of its products, it helps them succeed in and enjoy the game even more. Then, because this iteration also evokes comforting, nostalgic memories among gamers who have been shooting it out since the days when CD-ROMs were a thing, it is likely to induce even more positive feelings among fans.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Do you play any branded games, and if so, what is your attitude toward that brand? Do you purchase more of its products to improve your play experience?
  2. How long should a brand wait before it starts leveraging nostalgia as part of its appeal?

Source: Dianna Christie and Natalie Koltun, “Chex Mix Reboots Branded Video Game from the ‘90s,” Marketing Dive, May 19, 2020