50 Cent Used Gamification to sell Vitamin Water for $4.1 Billion


From the book- Hustlenomics Presents- The Untold Stories of The American Dream- 50 Cent Success

Hip-hop culture has long intersected with the video game industry. Several attempts have been made to integrate the culture into popular video games. One could look at video games like Grand Theft Auto. The Wu-Tang video game and several titles made by Def Jam illustrate the intersection of hip-hop culture and the video game industry. 50 Cent, however, took a unique approach that brought several new tools that are now commonplace with video games.

With the launch of Bulletproof, 50 Cent planned the video game to coincide with the launch of his Massacre album. The video game served as a marketing and a product placement platform. He used game-based learning or gamification to market and promote products that he was selling in other industries. For example, he used the video game to build awareness for Vitamin Water. You actually could go in the video game learn about Vitamin Water and find Vitamin Water to restore your health. It also gave you the product brand of Vitamin Water Formula 50.

Similarly, you were able to go into its closet and find G-unit clothing. You saw G-Unit clothing prominently displayed throughout the game. You also saw G-Unit sneakers displayed in the game. And you also saw the artists he had signed on his G-Unit label as characters in the video game.

All of these served as a platform to build sales in other industries outside of gaming. Things that are now common today, such as in-app purchases and integrated advertising, were not in 2005-2006. This innovation proved highly lucrative for 50 Cent. The Innovations allowed him to generate hundreds of millions of dollars.

In the case of Vitamin Water, he generated billions of dollars in value by using a video game as a platform for marketing and product sales. Now, what is unique about that? Products don’t normally want to brand themselves with edgy and violent video games. For 50 Cent, a marketing genius and a groundbreaker Vitamin Water was an essential component of his video game. This product integration strategy was influential in its subsequent $4.1 billion sales to Coca-Cola (KO).

I talked several times with 50 Cent about the video game industry, and he would wind up making three different video games. Here are some of our conversation:

Damola: Now, talk about the video game, it’s with (Vivendi/Vendetta) Universal. So, how did that come about, because for a while I thought you all were going through something with Rockstar (Games) and G-Unit/50?

50 Cent: I had gone to meet with Rockstar (Games) and they had already, prior to meeting with me, had a plan for their new Grand Theft Auto. So, they didn’t want to totally alter what they already created. So, I was like, “that’s cool.” And then, what I did with Universal/Vivendi was a better deal for me. So, I went to Universal/Vivendi and created my own video game.

Damola: What can we expect out of the new game?

50 Cent: Aw man, it’s going to be aggressive. It’s going to be the competition for Grand Theft Auto.

Universal Vivendi (VIVHY), a French company, also released his music through its Interscope Records. And it wound up being a broad platform integrated release. Bulletproof wound up being a best-selling title. It was featured in their May 2007 investors presentation. In 2005, the VU Games division enjoyed a 35% sales increase over 2004 with total revenue of around $775 Million (641 Euros at the time).

Bruce Hack, CEO of Vivendi Universal Games, said about 50 Cent, “50 Cent is one of the most talented artists in the recording industry with legions of fans around the world. Everything he touches turns to gold – music, movies, clothes, cars, watches. We are thrilled to collaborate with 50 Cent and Interscope Records in a video game debut that will deliver extraordinary music, exciting game play, and best of all, 50 Cent.”

We had another conversation to celebrate the blockbuster hit status of the video game and his plans for 2 other video games. Here is what he said:
Tell our readers about the video game. You did like two million?
The video game money is different. That is $59.99.

It isn’t like a CD. You sell two million of them and you’re going to be smiling.

Are you going to do another one?
Yeah, I already started. I have two new video games coming.

With Universal, too?
Yeah, Universal and G-Unit and another joint.

So, are they going to be similar?
New games. One is a totally new game. The other one is Bulletproof: Part Two.

Another thing that 50 Cent did was he hired an elite talent to help him write and script out the video game. Sopranos executive producer and Emmy-Award winner, Terry Winter, wrote the script for the game Bulletproof and also his semi-autobiographical movie, Get Rich or Die Trying.

50 Cent’s forays into the video game would also culminate with him working with other publishers such as THQ.

Blood on the Sand was developed by Swordfish Studios and published by THQ. Blood on the Sand did not sell as well as Bulletproof.

One can’t say if the publisher change had a substantial impact on sales, but the game wound up being a totally different product. The Bulletproof game is iconic; it’s stamped 50 Cent as a legend in the video game industry.

Eminem and Dr. Dre also made appearances in the Bulletproof video game. So did G-Unit artists Lloyd Banks, Tony Yayo, Young Buck and DJ Whoo Kid. So, what you got was megastar artists making appearances, future artists making appearances, and integrated products being launched in other industries. Game-based learning was also on display where consumers can interact with these products and get a favorable result in the game.

I will say it again, 50 Cent is a product creation and marketing genius.

The book is available on Apple Books now https://books.apple.com/us/book/id1497442526

Hustlenomics® Presents
50 Cent- Success- The Untold Stories of The American Dream
The Guerrilla Marketing Unit General
How His Unconventional Techniques and product creation skills generated over $14 Billion in realized value