Taking Advantage of Dating Apps: Fallout’s Latest Campaign

Chivalry is dead.

Or at least that’s the feeling many get when they look at the vast landscape of online dating platforms today. While some top dating websites, such as Match.com, offer extensive profiles and algorithms that they claim will help you find your soul mate, others take a more simplistic approach.

Take popular Mobile app Tinder, for example. The dating app forgoes profile questions and algorithms and sticks strictly to a swipe methodology. Users get the opportunity to see other users who are within a geographical location set by their mobile devices’ GPS and swipe-right if they’re interested and left if they’re not. If you swipe-right on a user who has also swiped-right on you, then it’s a match; otherwise, the user will never know whether he or she has been rejected or just not yet noticed.

While Tinder often gets criticized for being an app that promotes a shallow hook-up culture (and doesn’t necessarily do a good job defending itself on that front either), it nevertheless exudes the viral flair that promotes Internet infamy. In fact, in the less than three years since it was initially introduced, the dating app has gained an estimated 50 million users. And, when any mobile app garners that much engagement, it’s bound to have marketers knocking at its door to get a piece of the action.

That’s precisely what video game publisher Bethesda Softworks had in mind when it launched two Tinder profiles to promote its newest installment of the historic Role Playing Game franchise “Fallout.” If you’re not familiar with the “Fallout” series, you’re not alone, as few outside of the gaming world are. That’s precisely the point, however, as Bethesda is looking to expand its reach.

The entire game series is set in the future—most likely the 23rd century—and yet the design and culture is heavily influenced and reminiscent of 1950s America. After a nuclear holocaust, where your character and many others have cheated death by hiding in a fallout shelter, your character is tasked with surviving in the post-apocalyptic world.

As a console game, “Fallout” has been incredibly successful; the game’s iterations, which date all the way back to 1997, consistently garner grades in the high 80s and even 90s on GameRankings and Metacritic, two respected review sites in the gaming community. Predicting even greater success for the much anticipated sequel “Fallout 4” (slated for a November release), Bethesda created a spinoff free mobile game called “Fallout Shelter,” where the objective is to “create the perfect vault” (fallout shelter). One objective in the game is to—believe it or not—grow your population by being an omniscient matchmaker of sorts, and here is where Bethesda found an opening for marketing across dating apps.

For weeks now, Tinder users have been happening upon the two Bethesda-generated profiles. One is for “Vault Boy” and the other is for (you guessed it) “Vault Girl.” The two profiles are populated by “Fallout” jargon such as “Nuka Cola” and “RadAways.” The two profiles, while fake, are still hitting a positive nerve with Tinder users who are finding them playful, creative and inventive. And for those who aren’t necessarily hooked by the marketing strategy, Bethesda is still doing an excellent job of putting their product into untapped prospects.

While “Fallout Shelter” wasn’t meant for anything other than promotion for “Fallout 4,” the mobile game brought in nearly $5.1 million in its first two weeks thanks to in-app purchases, according to Gamespot. Furthermore, the venture into the unknown territory of the online dating realm (especially Tinder) has proven to be a success for Bethesda. The Vault Boy/Girl profiles are driving traffic to the mobile app, and the mobile app is creating hype and awareness for the next “Fallout” sequel while also generating a nice chunk of change for Bethesda.

The lesson here for brands is that it’s OK to go where marketers have rarely, if ever, gone before. In doing so, marketers can draw eyeballs back to their brand simply by trying something new—even if it turns out that their marketing strategies aren’t as successful as Bethesda’s proved to be. In the number of articles that have been written on the “Fallout” Tinder apps, few point to any negatives other than a cheesy pickup line written for Vault Boy.

With its latest marketing move, Bethesda proves that, with a little bit of outside-the-box thinking, much can be gained from employing unused marketing platforms to take advantage of large audiences built by popular app manufacturers.