I’ve spent countless hours behind a gaming controller even before I understood that my brother had my cable disconnected so he could keep playing. I am a gamer, and so are you! And do you know why you ended up being a candy stacking combo junkie like me? The answer is a solid marketing strategy. And, the angular stone of classic video game marketing strategies is a television ad.

Video game companies have been perfecting the TV commercial craft since Odyssey’s (gaming console) product manager Bob Fritsche appeared on the show “What’s my line” while doing a playthrough on October 16, 1972. This event is the first time a marketing campaign for a video game included a television appearance. Television became a defacto marketing channel for video games from that point on.

Let’s try to break this awareness tactic down.

Odyssey took a considerable risk here. Exposing your product on national television is no easy feat. Adding to the complexity of this publicity tactic, Bob put the gaming console to the test. The stunt consisted of Odyssey’s product manager and the show’s host playing a game of “tennis” (one of the many mini-games the system included) in front of a panel of famous people. The panel had to guess what was happening while not seeing the television screen where the host and Bob played the tennis game.

This publicity stunt aims to reach a broad audience, increase awareness, and showcase the product. Cleverly using what Robert Cialdini (author of the book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion) calls social proof, Bob exposes both the viewers and panel to the product. Bob is killing two birds with one stone: Explaining the value its console brings and using famous faces to endorse the product in a semi-organic fashion. The placement of this tactic is also very well thought. Using the context of “What’s my line,” a show where the modus operandi made the panellist ask questions was a perfect place to run a live FAQ session on the product that would typically baffle and disengage a large portion of the population.

This kind of awareness tactic is still present. Video game companies and publishers now go to influencers and streamers for paid playthroughs of the advertised video games. Following the same logic, they allow famous content creators to play the games, give their “unbiased” opinions, answer questions that boost awareness, and have fun with the game. A very similar but more refined and focused tactic that reminisces simpler times but is as effective as always.