The Game Is Changing

By Rodrigo Castro, Innovation and Technology Director Burson-Marsteller

In the past few years, there has been an increase in video game movie adaptations. While many gamers are excited to see their favorite game come alive on the big screen, there are nervous fans expecting to see the film adaptation completely fail their expectations. Since the early 1990s, video game films have earned the notorious reputation of being box office flops. Disappointing scripts, low budgets, and clueless direction seem to comprise every adaption. Production companies seem to misunderstand the material and lose focus of the video game’s primary objective. What seems at first like a rewarding investment for video game companies, usually results in a brand image catastrophe. Video game companies need to start taking a better approach when promoting their films to the audience.

While the Pokémon and Resident Evil series are a few of the lucky ones that dodged the “adaptation curse,” many others have gone downhill. In 1993, Super Mario Bros proved to be a major failure with a mediocre story line leaving many gamers completely unsatisfied. Hollywood Pictures had the film budgeted at $48 million dollars but in the end, the movie only made revenue of $21 million.  In 1999, Origin Systems’ Wing Commander was also given a movie adaptation that failed in the box office. The film had a budget of $30 million and it only brought in $11.5 million for the studio. In 2008, Uwe Boll decided to bring Gas Powered Games’ Dungeon Siege to the big screen for yet another video game adaptation. This movie had a $30 million budget, and was followed by disappointing revenue of $30 million.

The United States is not the only country with movie failures. Overseas, the Latin American region is experiencing the same issue when it comes to video game movie adaptations. Sony Pictures’ Pixels, premiered in Brazil on July 2015 with $11,849,499 (+8.2%) in its first week. On July 31st the movie did not surpass its opening week numbers and only made a sum of $9,268,713 (-21.8%).  In 2014, DreamWorks Pictures, The Need for Speed was a flop in Colombia. The movie only had revenue of $3,404,084.

Now the question is, why do these movies fail? For starters, a movie doesn’t offer the same kind of immersive experience as a video game. A game has a straightforward story, the player interaction is what determines how much fun it is and the level of enjoyment comes out of the game as opposed to a movie where the user has no control over the outcome whatsoever. A game is meant for users to become emotionally involved resulting in a highly unique experience. Grasping the concept of the video game is necessary for a successful movie. Hollywood still hasn’t found a way to fully understand how to adapt the game’s story line in a film. When these issues start to arise video game companies and production companies need to find a medium that in the end will satisfy the audience.

Video games are the defining medium of the twenty first century, like cinema was for the twentieth century. It is one of the biggest cultural shifters in the world today. It has changed the way we think about other mediums, including movies, TV, or art. The idea of making a video game into a movie is not a bad idea, but is imperative for brands to strategize a more approachable way when promoting a film. The industry is in need of a game changing mentality (pun intended).

In the industry, companies hire agencies to promote their films, and agencies have been known to create intimate trials offering gamers a “one on one” experience playing the game. Allowing gamers to preview the film is another simple method when promoting it that allows the consumer to have a unique experience that will hopefully translate into video game sales and success at the box office. Understanding and respecting video game culture is key to any brand that wants to connect with millennials and younger audiences (and not too-young audiences: average gamer age today is 35).

In an industry where so many adaptations have not seen any favorable results, a change must be instilled. Let an agency that respects the gaming culture be the bridge between this relatively new medium and the audiences it deserves. Let an agency that knows what people want tackle the behemoth that is the video game adaptation industry. Let an agency be your game changer.



This Week At Burson-Marsteller Miami


It was a great week for Burson-Marsteller Miami. On Wednesday, our corporate practice leader, Karen Guggenheim, had the opportunity to speak at the Public Affairs Council conference. Karen spoke about the importance of handling issues, crisis and reputation management. On Friday, the students of Tecnológico de Monterrey visited our office to learn about the importance of public relations, taught by our Technology and Innovation practice leader, Rodrigo Castro. We are very proud of our leaders taking the initiative to share knowledge unto other organizations.


Latinos Demand Más: Pushing the Limits of Traditional Public Relations to Effectively Reach Hispanics

The following article was featured in O’Dwyer’s June multicultural issue.

By: Jorge Ortega, Executive Vice President at Burson-Marsteller, Leader of Burson Latino


When I first began in the Hispanic communications field more than 25 years ago, Hispanics were considered a niche market, and targeting them was far less sophisticated and complex than it is today. Today, the 2016 Hispanic market has burgeoned into a large, diverse audience that has a significant impact on companies’ bottom lines, demanding much more from communications professionals than in years past. Be it content, channels for engagement or community connections, in this increasingly digital world, and with Hispanics over-indexing on digital channels and devices, today’s Hispanic marketer has to employ a much broader depth and breadth of assets than days past to communicate effectively with this audience. Now, more than ever, brands need to connect with Hispanics- which means communications agencies must have capabilities far beyond a well-connected, bilingual media relations team.

English? ¿Español?                                    

Speaking of bilingual media relations, this is not to say that bilingual media specialists aren’t essential to our agencies any longer. They are. However, the way our strategic communications plans approach traditional media relations has become much more complex. English or Spanish? Or do we shake things up with Spanglish content? There is a multitude of studies circulating on the benefits of Spanish verses English to connect with different Hispanic generational levels – but that’s not to mention the young, powerful Millennial generation. Good luck with them, fellow marketers. A difficult audience to categorize, Hispanic Millennials demand much more from marketers, and are hyper-connected to online media. While many of them speak Spanish as their first language, they may be equally strong in English and prefer to communicate in their Anglo tongue. Buzzfeed and Elite Daily may reach these audiences just as effectively in English, while Telemundo and Univision are now scrambling to better connect with the trendy Millennial population.

Digital or Digital, spelled the same in both languages 

Arguably the best means of reaching Hispanics, digital is, by its interactive nature, demanding of marketers. Latinos are now famous for their penchant for digital media, over-indexing on digital usage. Nielsen recently found that Hispanic consumers in the U.S. tend to stream more online video and were more likely to use mobile devices as second screens. This is not breaking news to Hispanic marketers, however it does increase what is asked of brands. Across segments, brands are expected to interact with their audiences, not just market to them.

Brands need to create engaging videos and content, and with public relations budgets significantly smaller than those for general market clients, they need an affordable way to create fast, creative content that will resonate with their audience across social media channels. Agencies must be able to provide this now, and even more so in the future. This could change the way that a traditional public relations agency is structured. Creating engaging content requires a talented creative team, and speedy graphic designers and video editors who can work hand-in-hand with a communications team to generate content quickly that is in line with the brand’s messaging and will cause digital Hispanic audiences to take note, rather than continue scrolling down their newsfeeds.

My comunidad 

Scan through any trending Hispanic influencer’s account, and you’re bound to come across a meme related to having a large, extended Latino family. It’s no secret that Hispanics place great emphasis on the value of family and community relationships. However, this builds expectations for brands to integrate seamlessly into the Hispanic culture. Think a Cinco de Mayo sponsorship at a local Mexican restaurant is enough? Think again. While some brands are leading the pack at infusing their brand narrative with Latino values, this requires more of a strategic communications campaigns than a presence at large, must-have events. The U.S. Hispanic population is a powerful network, reflected in the strength and influence of its organizations. Strong relationships with Hispanics begin with strong relationships with appropriate organizations within this network. Would you like to connect with young, business-minded Hispanics? Connect with ALPFA, the Association for Latino Professionals? Does your brand support entrepreneurship and small and medium-sized businesses? Maybe you should connect with the Stanford Latino Entrepreneur Initiative. Want to understand where Latino voters stand on certain issues? You can meet Latino appointed and elected officials through NALEO (National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials).  A successful Hispanic communications agency needs to have the connections to get your brand’s foot in the door across a variety of organizations and chambers.

Are you ready to succeed in this market?

As the entire public relations industry continues to evolve with the advance of digital media, Hispanic-facing efforts are changing even more quickly. Agencies specializing in the U.S. Hispanic market must now provide more capabilities for their clients, which requires a significant change in traditional public relations approaches. Brands needs to connect with audiences through engaging, multilingual content shared across digital channels and interact meaningfully with the community in order to deliver measurable business impact. Hispanic marketers must strengthen and diversify their communications capabilities in order to rise to this challenge.

Great Place to Work Latin America 2016 Conference


Burson-Marsteller Miami had the opportunity to support our friends at the Great Place to Work 2016® conference in Mexico. Their goal is to inspire organizations and leaders to produce and maintain a great workplace by providing strategies that are innovative and maintain a high-trust culture. The conference was filled with organizations and leaders ready to learn how to improve their workplaces. Many leaders also took the stage to share a few insights of their own, including Michael C. Bush, Thine Thygensen and our Burson-Marsteller Latin America CEO, Ramiro Prudencio.

Michael C. Bush, CEO of GPTW, presented a few action steps to the conference attendees that can make companies a great place to work. He  his beliefs on how people and society are better when there is a great place to work making an individual proud of what they do and their team. He mentioned a few key points for companies to achieve a successful workplace, such as leaders encouraging respect, credibility and fairness and to always provide positive feedback individually, thanking people for their effort and performance. Bush also added to his lecture the most common reasons why companies receive a low position in the Great Place to Work® ranking. These detrimental issues may include the arrival of a new CEO that caused damage, exponential growth of the company, layoffs and merging and acquisition of other companies.

Burson-Marsteller Miami also participated on the expert panel with our Latin America CEO and President, Ramiro Prudencio. Ramiro was accompanied by Germán Dyzenchauz, CEO of GOintegro Latin America, and Dr. Carlos Delgado Planás, Founder and President of Delgado de Compensa Capital Humano. The expert panel focused on different ways of communicating internally for companies in a digital age. Throughout the conversation between the panelists and the moderator, Ismael Cala, they highlighted the importance of internal communication saying, “communicating to your employees is not a chore, it is a commitment.” Dr. Delgado and Ramiro touched on how the establishment of new goals and strategies of the company should be communicated to all levels in order to succeed in the globalized world in which we all operate.

Burson-Marsteller Miami is proud to support our friends at Great Place to Work, and we thank them for an amazing time and interesting conference. Until next year!