5 iconic Food & Drink brands in gaming

Find out why top Food & Drink brands like Chipotle are investing in gaming and which brands lead in the space.

Food & Drink brands have been investing in gaming for a long time. From traditional gaming partnerships, product placements, limited-edition flavors and esports sponsorships – most legacy Food & Drink brands have tried to tap into gaming audiences. You can think of Pringles’ long-standing partnership with Xbox, NSE and even its 8-bit potato chip ad. 

Yet, compared to other sectors, Food & Drink brands have been slower to popular UGC platforms like Roblox, Fortnite and Minecraft. While newer brands, like Vita Coco and Chipotle, have established themselves within these popular spaces, other brands have just started to venture into these virtual worlds.

This article looks at the 5 iconic Food & Drink brands investing in gaming. We’ll unpick what makes these brands so popular with gaming communities and what makes their strategy competitive. Ultimately, we’ll offer an overview of what the virtual space looks like for Food & Drink brands looking to get involved.

Why are Food & Drink brands investing in gaming?

We asked Charles Hambro, CEO & Co-Founder of GEEIQ, why Food & Drink brands are investing in gaming

🧑‍🍳 Iconic Food & Drink brands have been involved in gaming for a long time, but gaming has evolved in the last 55 years. Now, they are starting to catch on and enter the space, particularly through campaign-based integrations. [Newer platforms] allow them to take a fresh approach and to avoid being shackled by the legacy of traditional gaming partnerships.

Brands are investing in gaming to reach younger audiences like Gen Z and Gen Alpha, who spend more time in virtual worlds than on traditional media. By 2027, gamers will spend two hours 3 minutes per day gaming compared to 1 hour 21 minutes on social media. 

These platforms also offer brands a creative way to engage directly with consumers. The audience becomes an active participant rather than a passive viewer. This means brands like McDonalds and Oreo use gaming to weave their brand messages into gameplay, creating deeper connections and loyalty with their customers.

Gaming also offers brands a chance to experiment and learn quickly. The interactive nature of virtual worlds provides real-time feedback on user preferences, helping brands refine their marketing. This allows them to adapt swiftly to changing trends. 

All in all, by tapping into gaming, brands can stand out in a crowded market, deliver memorable experiences and build lasting relationships with their audience. That’s why you’ve seen over 210 brand activations take place in Fortnite and even more on Roblox. 

5 iconic Food & Drinks brands in gaming

1. Vita Coco on Roblox

Vita Coco – The Coconut Grove’ has had 29.1 million visits on Roblox since its release in April 2023.

Experience: Vita Coco – The Coconut Grove 

Release Date: April 2023 

Total Visits: 29.1 million

Vita Coco’s activation on Roblox is the most visited Food & Drink experience across Roblox and Fortnite. The experience was released as a time-limited event on April 18 2023. However, it was so popular that Vita Coco made it a permanent experience to celebrate World Coconut Day on September 2nd 2023. Now, it has had over 29 million visits and an average of 2 million visits per month

What makes the experience popular are its unique game mechanics and UGC items. Visitors can play multiple mini-games, learn facts about sustainable coconut farming and win CocoCoins to exchange for avatar items. This includes a highly popular Coconut Capybara Shoulder Pet.

Another incentive for play that drove awareness of the experience is that Vita Coco donates $1 to a charity partner in Brazil for every seedling planted in Coconut Grove. About 62.7% of Gen Z believe sustainability to be very important or somewhat important. Thus, incentivising them to play by offering to donate up to $75,000 for in-game play was a great way of driving publicity for the experience.

Mae Wen, who manages Vita Coco’s socials and Roblox, explained why they joined the platform at one of our webinars:

🥥 Gen Z and Gen Alpha care about what they’re consuming. They care about making an impact on the world. It was really important to convey that we’re more than just a brand that sells beverages. We’re a brand that actually cares about the environment and does reforestation and cares about its farming communities. That was the core focus of our game and I think it really resonated with the players.

2. Chipotle on Roblox

‘Chipotle Burrito Builder’ has had 26.14 million visits on Roblox since its launch in November 2021.

Experience: Chipotle Burrito Builder 

Release Date: November 2021 

Total Visits: 25.8 million

Chipotle’s gaming strategy is multi-faceted and cross-channel, but its ‘Burrito Builder’ on Roblox particularly drove engagement and awareness. Since its launch in October 2021, it has reached nearly 26 million people and has 207k favorites. 

The reason this Roblox experience is so successful is because Chipotle’s team put the gaming community and its fans at the heart of their strategy. The experience was created after Chipotle fans compared the complexity of burrito building to playing video games. Taking inspiration from classic simulation games, players can complete mini-games and challenges to earn ‘Burrito Bucks’ that buy them real-life Chipotle rewards, like a free burrito

Chipotle also creates time-limited events on Roblox, like translating its Boorito tradition to Roblox with its ‘Boorito Maze’ experience. Taking place around Halloween, the Roblox experience allowed fans to earn special burrito codes, wear unique Chipotle-inspired costumes and navigate a thrilling maze to unlock exclusive UGC items. 

We asked Cynthia Miller, Head of Innovation at 11:11 Media and manager of Paris Hilton’s virtual Roblox strategy, why so many Food & Drinks brands are getting involved in the space: 

🍕 People have to buy food and drinks on a very regular basis. What Chipotle did a few years ago with, you know, releasing discount codes connected with their Boorito Maze was so genius and so ahead of its time. I feel like so many restaurants, snack foods, and FMCG brands are gonna wake up to this opportunity because of how quick those spending cycles are.

3. Baskin Robbins on ZEPETO 

Baskin Robbins’ BR Factory on ZEPETO has received 3.4 million visits since December 2021.

Experience: BR Factory 

Release Date: December 2021

Total Visits: 3.4 million

In December 2021, Baskin Robbins launched its first-ever gaming experience in ZEPETO, a popular UGC gaming platform from Korea with a growing audience in the West.

BR Factory invites players to build different ice cream cakes and earn various in-game rewards. As with other successful Food & Drink activations, the experience allowed players to win different Baskin Robbins products and mobile vouchers. That made it the first ZEPETO experience to connect actual product purchases with gameplay.

The experience was so successful that Baskin Robbins also released a follow-up, ‘BR Snow Camping’, which received 3.6 million visits. Hence, through its gaming activations, Baskin Robbins managed to reach more than 7 million visits in virtual worlds, boosting its brand awareness and driving brand loyalty.

4. Prime Red v Blue on Fortnite

Prime Red v Blue saw a peak of 22.48k active players when it launched in January 2024.

Experience: Prime Red v Blue

Release Date: January 2024

Peak active players: 22.48 thousand

Prime Energy drink, backed by famous creators and boxers KSI and Logan Paul, released an exclusive map in Fortnite creative, ‘Prime Red vs. Blue’. The battle map allows players to choose a side, gear up with all available weapons and go to battle to win rewards. The map, guarded by enormous avatars of KSI and Logan Paul in referee uniforms, offers a thrilling mix of features, including earning 10 coins per elimination, a custom leaderboard that tracks kills and gold and the ability to unlock special powers.

As a reward for top performers in the game, Prime released two limited-edition flavors labelled ‘Red vs Blue’ and ‘Blue vs Red.’ These bottles are only available if you play the game, making them very rare and coveted. 

Thanks to these entertaining game-loops and real-world incentives, the map is the most visited Food & Drink brand-owned experience on Fortnite, reaching a peak of 22.48k visitors in a day.

5. Knorr (Unilever) across Fortnite, Minecraft and more.

Knorr’s #ModTheVeg campaign is a great example of creative mods in gaming.

Experience: #ModTheVeg

Release Date: March 2024

Knorr, part of Unilever, announced its ‘#ModTheVeg’ campaign in March 2024. Its team noticed that meat-based foods in video games offer higher in-game boosts and points than vegetables. Now, the brand has collaborated with MullenLowe and multiple gaming platforms to change this, including Fortnite, Minecraft, Skyrim and GTA V. Over the next year or so, Knorr is creating modifications to these games that mean vegetable-based power-ups will be able to offer more benefits than meat-based power-ups.

The brand has launched a petition to support this and has received 21,075 sign-ups so far. 

While it’s difficult to gauge the level of visits or engagement the experience has received from players, #ModTheVeg is a great example of a comprehensive and creative cross-platform brand partnership across gaming channels for the better. The campaign has already driven large amounts of publicity and press for the brand. Its next challenge will be to appeal to the gaming communities native to each platform.

Key Takeaways 

Food & Drink brands moving into gaming underscores a broader trend where brands are finding unique and engaging ways to connect with future audiences. From Vita Coco’s Coconut Grove to Primes’ high-stakes Fortnite battles, these companies are demonstrating that gaming is a versatile platform for full-funnel marketing. By crafting authentic experiences that align with gamer interests and values, these brands are building deeper connections and driving brand loyalty with the audiences of tomorrow.

Hungry for more?

Learn more about how brands like McDonald’s, PepsiCo Group, Oreo and more are entering gaming. Check out our latest report, Food, Drink & Retail in gaming and virtual worlds 2024. 👇

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