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Home Depot tackles mobile gaming to score sales

Home Depot is making a bid to win over college football fans with a new mobile gaming application that lets consumers challenge their friends and family in games for a chance to win prizes.

The home improvement retailer is launching the app as part of its sponsorship for ESPN’s College Gameday. In addition to the gaming element, Home Depot’s mobile app also links back to the retailer’s Web site to let consumers learn how to build their own version of a cornhole game and shop for products.

“Brands of all kinds are trying to find ways to engage consumers,” said Tom Denari, president and principal of Young & Laramore, Indianapolis, IN.

“Mobile apps either need to be very useful or extremely fun, if not addicting to play,” he said. “A branded mobile game, if designed to be a genuinely fun experience, can be an effective means for a retailer to stay in the forefront of a consumer’s attention.”

Mr. Denari is not affiliated with Home Depot. He spoke based on his expertise on the subject.

Home Depot declined to comment for this story.

Game on mobile
Home Depot’s Corso’s Cornhole Challenge app is available for free download on iPhone and Android devices.

To use the app, consumers have to create an account that is linked to a Facebook profile.

Players can challenge the hosts from ESPN’s College Gameday, which include Lee Corso, Chris Fowler, Desmond Howard and Kirk Herbstreit.

Once a game has been created, consumers toss virtual bean bags at a cornhole board. The bags are branded with Home Depot’s logo, and there are also bean bags that display the logos from other brands that sponsor ESPN’s College Gameday, such as Coca-Cola Zero and Kingsford Charcoal.

The goal of the game is to reach 21 points, and consumers who do so can win weekly prizes.

Additionally, a grand prize winner will be chosen from the top 25 players in the overall leaderboard to receive a trip to a post-season College GameDay VIP trip. The package includes travel expenses, two tickets to a playoff game in Pasadena, CA and passes to a pre-game tailgate party.

The grand prize winner will also have the chance to play a game of flag football against the GameDay team.

To promote the app, Home Depot is running expandable and banner ads within ESPN’s mobile site.

Mobile construction
In addition to the new gaming app, Home Depot also has a commerce-enabled app for iOS, Android and Windows Phone devices.

Last year, Home Depot rolled out a new mobile site, app features and leveraged various forms of mobile advertising that resulted in mobile conversions doubling between 2011 and 2012 (see story).

The brand has also experimented with location-based mobile advertising to offer consumers relevant content and offers (see story).

Mobile gaming has not completely caught on with retailers yet, but Home Depot is proving with this app that the marketing tactic is of interest to the company to build up its mobile presence and ultimately drive sales.

“If it’s not a game that someone would want to play over and over, the consumer will simply reject it as another marketing ploy for their attention,” Mr. Denari said.

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York