David Blecken
Sep 26, 2014

Gamification still has big implications: PHD

SPIKES ASIA – For a non-gamer, PHD chief executive Mike Cooper is extremely enthusiastic about play.

Mike Cooper
Mike Cooper

In his seminar yesterday, he asked the audience to consider the impact that gamification can have, and is already having, on life. He drew on highly successful commercial products like Destiny, Clash of Clans and Call of Duty to show the mass appeal of online games. The latter engages the average player for 170 hours a year, he said—the equivalent of a month of full-time work.

He noted that gamification can go beyond ‘gaming’. Although the term has been in use since 2010, it still has major implications for brands, society and business, he said, pointing to a study that indicated nearly 90 per cent of workers are not fully engaged in their jobs. “Imagine if we could engage workers as much as gamers,” he said.

The realisation led to the establishment of PHD’s proprietary gamified platform, Source, which Cooper described as a “journey into the unknown” and “possibly the biggest investment in a communications planning system by a media agency”. Joining him on stage, Australia head of strategy Chris Stephenson talked through Source’s development and the lessons from it.

  • As a platform to promote a more effective and collaborative way of working, Source takes into account everything that happens in a media agency. Every activity earns points, meaning that people are sometimes able to gain a better understanding of where their strengths lie. It is also a way of identifying talent in specific areas around the world.
  • Source is competitive, but the only way to win is through collaboration. It ultimately encourages staff to be altruistic. Fierce competition does not lead to the best working environment, Stephenson said.
  • In the end, whatever work we do, we are all already involved in a game of sorts. “The only question you have is how you are going to play it,” Stephenson said.

Campaign’s observation: PHD’s model is a bold move that seems to be paying off, but we have yet to see other agencies adopting a similar approach. At a brand level, gamification certainly has its place, but just as not all stories need to be told, not everything fits neatly into a game format. Also, not all consumers want to become players. Think carefully before turning something into a competition. 


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