In the Collaborative Unit, we are assigned to develop a collaborative relationship either with students from other courses or an external party. At first I was considering collaborating with an MA student in Animation for this project, but later I was offered a project opportunity by a friend of mine, which sounded very exiting, so I decided to collaborate with her instead.
My collaboration partner is Beliz, she works as a Marketing and Sales Executive of a company that produces and distributes premium Turkish coffee. They also import premium quality Turkish delights as a compliment to the coffee. Beliz's responsibility in the her role is to introduce the product to a wider audience, not only by building a network of buyers (B to B sales) but also increasing the consumer demand of the product with the UK market (B to C sales).
Beliz is expecting to have a simple game that will help her raise awareness on the Turkish coffee experience. She would like to create a digital game which the potential consumers can play during the gourmet food festivals that they participate. She also plans to share the game as digital marketing content through the company website and social media accounts.
Beliz wants the game to feature the products and make them desirable. The game does not have to be neither realistic nor educational, but it should encourage the player to learn more about the products and to consider trying the real experience.
The company she works for is called Özerlat. It is originally a family business from Cyprus, and now they are beginning to expand their business abroad. The shareholders care very much about the culture and tradition of the Turkish coffee and their own legacy within this culture. There has been only a couple of years since the company has entered the UK market. Since the product is not well known and not much-used in the west, the company needs to introduce not only their own brand to the people, but also the whole concept of Turkish coffee experience.
Beliz and I thought that we could start an experimental project, and hopefully at the end achieve to create a good game, which can be used as a market penetration tool and has a potential to introduce the Turkish coffee to the western markets. If we can create the game successfully, it would supply benefits for the company’s business operations and eventually help Beliz make better sales.
In our first meeting after deciding to work together on this assignment, Beliz briefed me and gave me detailed information about the company, products, business strategies and the current situation, then we decided on our methods of collaboration.
Company’s objectives in the UK market:
Introducing/presenting Turkish coffee properly.
Penetrating in to European market starting from London.
Main problem that they are facing:
There is not enough awareness.
People do not have enough information about the product.
They do not know about the difference of Turkish coffee.
The beans are the same, grinding is different.
It is “unfiltered”.
People do not know enough about the preparation process and consumption.
They do not know how to cook the Turkish coffee properly.
They do not know neither how to serve nor drink it.
People do not know how to enjoy it.
No rush. Take your time. Sit down, relax, make conversation and connect. It is a break.
Culture and traditions.
People can be closed to the experience. They think that they will not like the taste.
They have had bad experiences with the product. It was prepared poorly, or the product was not presented or explained well by the seller (cafe/restaurant).
Sell the experience, “Journey to the heart of a culture.”
Since people are not educated enough or are impartial to cook the coffee at home, they prefer consuming it outside. Thus, the current sales are generally made to B to B. The company targets and sells the coffee to the high-end restaurants with relative cuisines, such as Mediterranean (Aegean, Cypriot, Greek, Western Turkish), North African, Lebanese, Middle Eastern (Persian, Iraqi, Israeli, Eastern Turkish) and Arabic. However, the company desires the Turkish coffee to be a general, daily product such as the Italian coffee (Espresso), which every restaurant serves no matter what their cuisine is.
The Özerlat branded Turkish delights are not produced by Özerlat (the coffee company); they are produced by a very famous and high quality facility in Istanbul. The company brands and sells the delights because they are essential for the Turkish coffee experience that they are marketing. Since Turkish coffee is very bitter, the delight is traditionally served and consumed with the coffee to balance the taste.
Currently, the delights are targeted and sold to the middle aged people with moderate to high income. They buy it as a gift, especially during the holiday seasons. Considering the fact that the awareness of delights are higher than the coffee, plus the consumption of delights is much easier, the company bundled the coffee with the delights as a market strategy even though the coffee is originally their main product.
The company aims to communicate:
how a Turkish coffee is cooked and prepared, properly.
how it is served and consumed well.
what is the difference of Turkish coffee from Espresso.
the history and culture of this unique experience.
Expectations of the Collaborator:
Beliz briefed me to create a game, which incorporates their products (Turkish coffee and delight) and also reflects the brand identity and values of Özerlat. She was thinking about utilising this game in foodie festivals, where they set up booths for sampling, for attracting the attention of tasters. She also thought about seeding the game thorough social media as a digital marketing tool, for raising awareness of the public and make them curious about the Turkish coffee experience.
During our conversation on the business and products, I realised that there should be certain limits to the game we are about to create, and it was better to set these at the very beginning of the project. I asked her about the brand identity of Özerlat, and also asked her to list the things, which the brand should never be associated with.
Brand ID: sophisticated, gourmet, family legacy
NO - The brand can never be associated with:
Things which might cause disgust (i.e. insects)
Becoming distant from the product (i.e. not enough connection between the product and the mechanics and theme of the game)
Anything that is low quality
Separation of products (It would be nice to see the coffee and delight within the same game.)
YES - The brand should be associated with:
Senses (i.e. Mouth-watering effect)
Emphasis on the local and orientalist
Beliz showed me this old cartoon by Disney which features Turkish delights and the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul. She noted that her boss liked it very much and it can be set as a benchmark in terms of reality and seriousness for this project. The cartoon is very orientalist; it is features delights in a fantasy narrative and manages to make them desirable by the watcher.
The website and brochures are useful for examining all the products and the visual ID of the firm.
The tasting notes, describing the products in a sensual way, can supply guidance during the thought process, and also they can become helpful while creating the gaming experience.
In the interview, Beliz's boss explains their vision in her own words, which is a benefical benchmark to refer to along the project.
Methods of Collaboration:
Beliz has briefed me and we agreed on the framework. After completing this phase, the next step is that I am going to prepare a time plan for the project, think about game ideas and research about the product and target audience until our next meeting.
Meetings: Before I have a prototype, we decided to have meetings once a week on Tuesdays. And when I create a prototype we will reevaluate the meeting times.
Design: Beliz will be involved in the game design process. I will present her my ideas, and she can comment and add on to them. She can also come up with suggestions and I can evaluate them. She will guide me based on the company profile and needs. She will be supervising the project and making sure that I will not drift apart from the brief during the design process.
As soon as, I get her approval on the game concept and the game idea on high-level, I can start developing.
Development: I will be developing the game, and when the game is ready for testing Beliz will be able to examine it, make comments and ask for iterations (3 iterations maximum). I will also be checking my game assets and art style with Beliz, and implement them in the game as I have the approval.
Platform: Currently, we are planning to create a Web game that the company can easily share the link to on social media and by email. If the Web game is appreciated by the shareholder, we are planning to adapt it to mobile and publish it thorough the application stores.