After almost six months since Animal Crossing New Horizons has come out, Nintendo has sold over 22 million copies worldwide, making New Horizons the second best-selling game for the switch console. At over 350 hours of gameplay, even I've been unable to resist this game’s cutesy charms. When I’m not weeding out my island, or visiting my villagers, I’m reading up on the latest Animal Crossing news on my phone. No thanks to the pandemic, it seems this virtual island paradise has become a popular tourist destination for many—and where there are people…there is bound to be advertising.
Here are my top three brand appearances in ACNH (but first an honorable mention):
Honorable Mention: KFC Philippines’ Fried Chicken Island
By making an entire island around their product, KFC was able to make use of two popular habits animal crossing players have: 1) exploring other islands, and 2) taking pictures at cool photo-opp spaces to upload on social media. The entire island is post-worthy—terraforming perfection with plentiful waterfalls and mini islands spelling out “KFC.”
Additionally, KFC also had a free 8-piece chicken bucket giveaway associated with the island. To visit the island and get free chicken, players needed to get a code from the KFC Phillipines' Twitter page. They then needed to find the KFC colonel—who, upon being found, would give players a custom code that they could present as proof to redeem their free bucket.
Interior design in Animal Crossing is a completely different thing to tackle than terraforming. In my case, my still four-star island seems to be in infinitely better shape than the interior of my fully upgraded house. I just cannot seem to keep my house from looking either super cramped or ridiculously empty—a problem that IKEA solves in real life, so why not in animal crossing too?
The use of in-game furniture within the IKEA catalog gave people ideas on how to better decorate the inside of their houses on Animal Crossing. At the same time, however, the side-by-side comparisons gave the real IKEA furniture exposure. Since IKEA did not convert all their catalog pages into animal crossing masterpieces, people were still tempted to look at the rest of the catalog to find more inspiration themselves. In the end, it was a win for the consumer and a win for the brand.
Hellmann’s Canada example stands out—not only because of their integrated use of various Animal Crossing components, but also because of how they found a solution for an in-game problem by tying it to a real-world one. Like KFC, Hellmann’s made a wonderful island, complete with miniature versions of Hellmann’s Farm and Second Harvest’s Outdoor Kitchen for players to explore and share. The one thing that “spoiled” the view was the many rows of spoiled turnips people dropped off on the island.
In Animal Crossing, turnips go bad if players do not sell them by a certain day. Hellmann’s gave players an alternative to tossing their rotten turnips by instead allowing them to donate their turnips to Hellmann’s Island. Up to their goal of 25,000 meals, Hellmann’s pledged to donate one meal to Second Harvest for each turnip a player donated to the island. The campaign was a wholesome way of allowing players to give back amidst the zeal of the turnip-grubbing culture of the game.
1. Gillete Venus’ Skinclusive Summer Line
Gillete Venus' place at the top is well earned—diversity of skin tone has been a common complaint from the animal crossing community for years. While New Horizons had some variety of skin tones to choose from, the game’s simplicity in avatar design did not encompass the larger scope of skin variations there are in real life. Gillete created 264 total designs—19 types of skin featured in eight different skin tones. The designs featured skin types such as vitiligo, acne, cellulite, eczema, wrinkles, nevi, psoriasis, prosthetics, burns, stretch marks, arm hair and more. The skins are beautifully designed, and their names such as “Cesarean Chic” match the positive vibes of Animal Crossing. The skins help to not only tackle personal insecurities, but also the body-shaming and beauty-standard issue in society as a whole.