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In-game ads in The Sims Social reach tasty lows

Say what you like about social games, but they certainly fill a niche in the market. And they fill it with a captive audience who is well-trained to come back day after day and click the same buttons, harvest the same crops, perform the same actions.

Dove Hair Therapy in The Sims Social

Dove Hair Therapy in The Sims Social

Predictably, this same audience - while playing their social games - fills another niche, by providing advertisers with a whole new set of eyeballs. If the demographic matches up, slipping a little product placement into a game or two can be marketing gold.

Just ask Unilever, who has inked a one-year deal with Electronic Arts regarding advertising within The Sims Social, the franchise's foray into the Facebook universe.

Fans of the game may have already seen bits and pieces of Unilever's projects popping up: In January, Sims were given the option to select a "Care & Repair with Dove Hair Therapy" shower feature, alongside other bathroom upgrades. The interaction provided characters with both Love and Bling, something the ad guys are hoping will carry over to the real world next time you go shopping for shampoo.

Another ad deal saw a series of quests and in-game tasks designed to reward you with the "Progressive Unicorn", inspired by a certain brand of American insurance.

Coming up next though, something we can all appreciate: Brand-name ice cream lurking inside your Sim's freezer.

Dave Madden, Senior Vice President of Global Media Solutions at EA, reports the experiment has so far been a success:

In just a two week period, over one million The Sims Social players redeemed the Dove Hair Spa virtual items in their games. It's a powerful combination of the right game, the right audience and the right gaming platform showing the success that real-world brands can have reaching highly-engaged players.

It's not known at this stage just what perks will be involved from picking up a "Magnum Mini Ice Cream bar" or a "Cornetto" ice cream cone - or whether or not those perks will expand into the real-world.

The Progressive Unicorn in The Sims Social

...this one's a little more subtle.

EA also explains that each phase of the Unilever campaign will be linked, but we're not quite sure how the Dove shampoo will be connected to the tasty icecream. Either way, keep an eye out in the Store section of The Sims Social to see what else is popping up in-game.

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I like video games and music and cups of tea and noodles and beagles and colour-cycling LEDs.
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