Everyone’s a winner – using game cards as a marketing tool.

April 24, 2012

in Print work

GamecardOver the years, we’ve been asked to produce a wide range of game cards for our clients.  They are a great way to get customers to interact with a promotion, product or service and are as effective as a business-to-business marketing tool as they are for the more conventional consumer promotions.

This post gives an outline of some of the game card mechanics available for you to use and detail on how to make sure they work for you.

Firstly, if you have little or no experience with sales promotion then you need to think very carefully about the structure of your incentive.  You may recall the Hoover story, where back in 1992 the vacuum-cleaner company created a sales promotion that gave free flights away with every product purchased above the value of £100.  What Hoover didn’t anticipate was that consumers began purchasing products with the sole intention of claiming the free flights and in most cases the value of the Hoover product was substantially less than the value of the free gift.  In sales promotion terms, it was a “right ol’ balls up”; costing Hoover over £50 million and it lead to their subsequent sale to Italian manufacturer Candy. 

To avoid encountering any unforeseen issues and for great advice on sales promotion; including legal issues, terms & conditions and access to in-depth case studies –  we would highly recommend joining the IPM (Institute of Promotional Marketing).

Right – on with the good stuff.  Let’s start looking at the variety of game card types you can use for your promotion.

Scratchcards.   Printed cards with the win/lose panel covered with a scratch-off silver latex.  The ‘win’ panels can be printed with any amount of variation and detail from data supplied.  It is also possible to overprint the silver panel with text.

Rip & Reveal.  These cards have three perforated edges and once opened a small slip is pulled out to reveal the prize.  The mechanic works as one piece and the perforations create the illusion that the ‘win’ slip is a loose insert.

Crack-Apart.  A variation on the Rip & Reveal where rather than the edges being perforated, there is a die-cut line through the middle of the card that allows for the card to be pulled apart to reveal the ‘win’ slip…similar to a 2D Christmas cracker.

Reactor.  This is where a special reactive ink is used to reveal the promotion prize.  The ink can be activated through a variety of processes…

  • Heat/Chill – thermochromic inks that become visible from either being placed in the refridgerator (great for chilled goods promotions) or by being warmed up, from the heat from your hand for example.
  • Wet – hydrochromic inks that become visible when immersed in water
  • UV – ultra-violet reactive inks that become visible when placed beneath a UV light source

We’re here to help with any questions you may have regarding game cards including supplying plain paper dummies and cutter guides that work for your spec.  Just ring the team for advice…and be lucky!

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Jane Heaton May 8, 2012 at 7:11 pm

Hi Martyn, I wonder how many people are put off considering this type of promotion – not just because of the legalities and best practice but because the production itself seems too complicated? A bit like producing a really good direct mail piece. I’m wondering what the typical economic case might look like – for example, for a b2b company looking to use the technique to engage visitors at a trade show. I tend to think of game cards as being for big brands for large scale campaigns (I was working for Shell in the 80s during the ‘Make Money’ promotion!). But have changes in technology led to it being a feasible option for smaller companies looking for smaller scale campaigns?


Martyn Dolbear May 9, 2012 at 7:12 am

Thank you for your comments Jane, you make some very good points. With the advancement of digital print technology it means that products such as short run scratchcards become far more cost-effective. Obviously the more elaborate the game-card mechanism, the higher the total cost but it all comes down to ROI.

Allowing your prospective customer to engage with your company or product in an interesting way, with the opportunity of actually winning something in return means you’re far more likely to get those prospects to ‘come to you’ than, for example, a standard leaflet. We’re happy to supply sample quotes to anyone that wants to look at the cost of producing game cards but as an example we recently produced 2500 scratchcards for less than £700. Call-to-action items such as a scratch card greatly improves your response rates and so ROI becomes immediately apparent.


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