Global group creative directors at Grey Christopher Lapham and Aaron McGurk tell LBB’s Zoe Antonov more about this year’s campaign for Pringles that paid one lucky applicant £20,000 pounds to become an NPC
In a world-first opportunity, Pringles and Grey London have collaborated for the Stay In The Game campaign, and have offered someone the chance to get paid to work in a video game as an NPC.
Sounds pretty wild, but with more of us stepping into the virtual world and exploring the metaverse, the campaign came as little surprise, as the latest addition from the Pringles ‘Mind Popping’ brand platform. After the application process, one lucky candidate would be selected to appear as an NPC in the game Train Sim World, a train simulation game available with Xbox Game Pass. The non-playable character would be a vending machine re-filler, and the prize is £20,000.
Applicants were invited to post a creative video or a selfie with a Pringles can telling the brand why they would be the perfect vending machine refiller in under 50 words on social media, with the hashtag #PringlesStayInTheGame. After the winner is chosen, an NPC 3D modelled to look like them will be virtually reproduced and they will appear as themselves in Train Sim World this coming September.
To support the campaign, Pringles and Grey released a series of films portraying different NPCs in Train Sim World being less than happy upon learning the news about a new NPC entering the world of the game, with a salary. The campaign and its films also have the mission to assert Pringles even further as being the “perfect gaming snack,” due to the sturdiness of the chip and the lack of crumbs when eating it with your hands.
LBB’s Zoe Antonov spoke to global group creative directors at Grey, Christopher Lapham and Aaron McGurk to find out more about what the approach with the campaign was, why they decided to tap into the NPC world and how the applications took place.
LBB> What was the brief for this campaign and what were the initial conversations surrounding it?
Christopher & Aaron> The overall brief was to position Pringles as the perfect snack for gaming because unlike a lot of other snacks they’re not greasy or crumbly which means you can keep on gaming without having to stop because of messy hands 😳. That brought us to the campaign thought of ‘Stay In The Game’. There was a TVC and social campaign that ran first but the NPC idea was the activation part. And what better way to stay in the game than Pringles giving someone a job in one and paying them for it. *Gif of someone making it rain with dollar bills*
LBB> What is an NPC, and what is Train Sim World?
Christopher & Aaron> An NPC is a non-playable character. They’re the people in games that help make the game feel more realistic but are also the ones you can’t control. For example, the crowd in any sports game. For more information watch ‘Free Guy’ featuring Ryan Reynolds, he does a good job of explaining it. Train Sim World is a train simulation game where you can drive trains (and tubes) all over the world. Now, that might not sound like a lot of fun but trust us, there's A LOT of people that love it.
LBB> Tell us more about the Pringles Mind Popping platform?
Christopher & Aaron> Mind Popping is the new global platform that we were briefed on at the start of 2020 which went live in January of this year. It’s the first global platform Pringles have had in the last 25 years since the legendary ‘Once You Pop You Can’t Stop’ line. It’s basically born out of the fact that there are tons of interesting and random stories around the Pringles brand, and how they came to be, which we thought the world needed to know. For instance, did you know that Pringles got their name from a phone book? They just opened one up and pointed to the first name they saw which happened to be Pringles Drive (somewhere in America) and the rest is history. Use that at your next dinner party if you want. Mind Popping is also a nod to an internal mantra that we talk about all the time which is ‘unnecessary genius’. That’s basically Pringles way of saying ‘this idea is totally unnecessary in the grand scheme of things but we absolutely must do it because it’s so damn cool and relevant for the audience’.
LBB> What kind of demographic is the reach for this campaign and why did you decide this is the best approach for it?
Christopher & Aaron> As is the way with a lot of briefs these days, the audience is everybody. So for us it was gamers and non-gamers, but specifically 18-40 year olds. Gamers nowadays aren’t the cliched teenage boys in their bedrooms, they're grown ass adults who also have jobs and children. Therefore the idea had to appeal to a fairly broad audience.
LBB> What are you expecting to see from the applications and are you already seeing some good work?
Christopher & Aaron> We were expecting to see some quirky and strange stuff as Pringles have a diehard following of fans and we were not disappointed. One guy managed to make a film featuring himself in three different animated game worlds. That dude deserves a medal. A big medal made of chips that he can eat…if he wants.
LBB> Is this Pringles' next step towards the Metaverse and if yes, what is to follow? What are your expectations?
Christopher & Aaron> I guess every brand is getting into the metaverse right now but we can’t just be doing it because it’s ‘the thing to do’. There has to be a reason for Pringles to be there and gaming is the perfect one. Now it’s about doing things bigger and better and, if possible, maintaining the world firsts that we did with ‘Meet Frank’ last year and the ‘Pringles NPC’ this year.
LBB> Once the winner is selected, what will turning them into an NPC entail, what would the process be like?
Christopher & Aaron> The winner will undergo a very painful process where their flesh and bones will be digitised into computer pixels via a big steel chamber with lightning running through it. If you’ve seen the film ‘The Fly’ it should give you some idea of what they’ll go through*
LBB> Any final thoughts?
Christopher & Aaron> Eat your greens, stay hydrated and if you’re bored try counting how many times Pringles make a cameo in the ‘Stranger Things’ series.
*None of this is true but they will undergo a full body 3D scan to transform them into our vending machine re-filling NPC. That transformation will take place live on Twitch so keep your eyes peeled for the date when that will happen.