Reverse Engineering Dead Space Commercial

It’s rare to see a marketing campaign executed well. The folks behind the Dead Space 2 commercial did a superb job in defining both their audience and strategy, and then they executed 30 seconds of pure marketing genius.

We can all learn from this and in this post, we spend some time dissecting their strategy and learning how we can apply it to our own business and products.


Other Reverse Engineering videos:

Learn more about Dissociative Tribe marketing strategy.

Dino Dogan

Global Force for Badassery | Founder of Triberr | Refugee from Bosnia | Writer for Technorati | Speaker | Lousy Martial Artist | Pretty good singer/songwriter | Hi 🙂

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  • Robert Dempsey

    The looks on the faces of those mothers is more than enough to tell me that that game is bad ass and I should own it.

    • Dino Dogan

      I KNOW!!! Right? I dont even play video games and the 15 year old inside me wants to go out and buy it 🙂

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  • Anonymous

    Love the concept: defining your audience through their “enemies” 🙂

    Coke had another interesting strategy against Pepsi at one point (red it in Sergio Zyman’s book): they created a clear beverage which they marketed as being uncool which ultimately made all clear beverages to be perceived as uncool (including Pepsi’s). This was a scheme just to make Pepsi’s beverage go under.

    Love the blog man!!!

    • Dino Dogan

      That sounds interesting..Ima have to go check that out. Speaking of Coke, did you know that it used to be sold as a cure-all?

      • Anonymous

        Yup! 🙂

        I bet kinds wanted to get sick all day (after they tasted Coke).

  • Chris Loyd

    I saw that commercial and I knew it was good, I just didn’t know why 🙂 and you were right, there isn’t a lot under the hood at least as compared to MGD64 and statefarm (both breakdowns I loved by the way) but it’s really interesting none the less.

    Love these new reverse-engineering series. keep ’em comin 🙂

    • Dino Dogan

      I never know which commercial I’ll do next, but they come to me 🙂 Glad you liked it. And you’re right. Unless we bring these triggers to surface they tend to work on a unconscious level….I think theres a point there somewhere 🙂

  • Elise M

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE this commercial. Seriously, it’s amazing. The first time I saw it on TV, I was like OMG. Marketing at its finest!

    Great video and analysis of the commercial in terms of super targeted marketing. I commend the Dead Space marketing team. They did a fantastic job on really stepping outside the box on this one.

    • Dino Dogan

      I know…its superbly executed…really great stuff 🙂

  • John Falchetto

    Hey Dino, so basically we buy because of who we are not, rather than who we are.
    Well done commercial, thanks for the review.

    • Dino Dogan

      Hey John…yeah, thats exactly right. If you try to approach a tribe in a frontal fashion, you stand a risk of being rejected. Think high school counselors who flip over the chair to appeal to the rebellious nature of the teen for example. It comes off contrived and fake because it is.

      On the other hand, if you reject the opposing tribe (in this case moms of teens) you stand a good chance of ingratiating yourself to the teen-tribe without appearing to have tried.

      This strategy works especially well on teens which dont have their mental faculties developed entirely. (certain types of chemicals dont get produced until we’re well in our 20s + the testosterone gets in the way of rational thinking as well)….

      so…to answer your statement…yes, you’re right lol

      P.S. Boy, do I tend to go on and on lol

      • John Falchetto

        Some of the stuff I read today, seriously I think people in their 40s still don’t have mental faculties developed entirely…
        But I hear you easier to point out a common enemy than look fake trying to be ‘cool’

  • Murray

    Firstly, Dino man – your hair – you got the Bieber going on 😛 I kid I kid

    Anyway, to the video:

    It’s funny (the topic matter with the older folk) because just the other day my boss was telling me that he wanted to do this teaching thing to us youngsters about running a business (he’s been doing so for the last 25+ years) but as I sat there listening I had to say it “dude, you’re old”.

    That isn’t to belittle him; it’s just stating what people may not think about.

    Do you think people in their 20’s want to listen to someone in the 50’s? Hell no.

    He certainly has a TON of great information (that I certainly listen to) but as for the market overall, young people want to interact with other young people.

    That’s why you don’t friend you mom on Facebook haha.

    I see what they did there 😛

    • Dino Dogan

      I think Justin snuck in at night at gave me a haricut. Thats how he gets you…while you’re sleeping :-p

      BTW..I dont know what youre talking about when you say you didnt friend your mom…I friended your mom, and it was good ….whooooooa lol I kid, I kid

  • Ingrid Abboud


    This is actually the first time I ever see this commercial. I had never heard of the game either. And I watched it twice!
    I’m not gonna’ comment on your hair – Murlu already did that hehe. But you’ve got the super intellectual look going.

    As for the video – brilliant. Simply fantastic! Excellent marketing strategy. I loved it – not the game though lalthough I’m kinda curious now lol.
    Talk about knowing your audience – they created their audience even!
    And every knows that a 15 year old kid will do exactly what his parents (or adults) don’t like.

    Your breakdown – as always – is just so right on and educational at the same time. I like how you used GAP as an example and you’ve got a great take-away here Dino which many companies and even bloggers should listen to.

    “When you market to everybody, you market to nobody”.

    I may quote you one of these days my friend.
    Nicely done Mr. Dogan!


    • Dino Dogan

      I think Ogelvy said the “When you market to everybody, you market to nobody” but I’ll take the credit 🙂

      • Ingrid Abboud

        I was trying to think where I knew that phrase from without having to Google it lol. So I’m taking your word for it but I’m still gonna quote you quoting Ogilvy – he has enough quotes under his belt as it is haha.

  • Start Your Novel

    Game sales are huge right now, generating more profits than the film industry, and it’s likely that we will be seeing more and more “gaming moms.” Right now, the notion that games aren’t for girls is fading.
    What happens next, when moms move into gaming? “This is not your mom’s favorite videogame”?

    The comparison you drew makes sense. The Dead Space campaign is targeting a specific crowd and telling them, “we get you”, just like Gap did. Telling someone you understand them is one of the most powerful statements you can make.

    • Dino Dogan

      Gaming moms is a demographic I wasnt aware of lol well…maybe Wii, but thats a diff kind of video game, right?

      I know that 48% of gamers are in fact females (and now I am talking about hard core, 1st person zombie shooter type gamers and not Wii tennis).

      yay sharing stats 🙂

      • Start Your Novel

        I did have the Wii in mind when I wrote my post. Nintendo obviously targeted a non-gaming demographic there. The guys over at pointed out that the basic Wii controller looks like a TV remote, which is familiar and non-threatening (unlike, say, your average Xbox controller) to the elderly.

        Basically, there’s a game for everyone… just like there’s a TV show for everyone. Media have a tendency to grow and encompass every demographic, eventually. It’s the content that matters. Content is where the battle for hearts and minds is fought.

        You’ll find more and more “gaming moms” playing those 1st person zombie-shooters, and the RPGs, and anything else you can think of. Games as a medium are still expanding their appeal.

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