Playfish: Jamie Oliver celebrity promo is just the beginning

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jamie oliver restaurant cityEarlier today, we noted that celeb chef Jamie Oliver will be making an appearance (or, rather, some of his most famous recipes will be making an appearance) in the Facebook game Restaurant City over the next few weeks. According to Playfish Director of Global Integration Tom Sarris, this is just the beginning of the celebrity cameos in Playfish games.

Sarris says there's a 'seamless logic' to having celebrities like Oliver appear in games, and that games like Restaurant City and others in the Playfish repertoire lend themselves to star-studded branding.

"In a game like FIFA Superstars or Madden NFL Superstars,we can see a time -- when the seasons start again in those leagues -- to do something similar that we're doing with Jamie Oliver with sports stars," he says. "People love to have an opportunity to interact with that star, and this is a logical way of being able to do that."
So, sports fans, expect to see some of your favorite athletes take on a bigger role in Madden and FIFA for Facebook when the seasons start to heat up again.

As for Jamie Oliver, Sarris says they had planned to have well-known chefs somehow involved with Restaurant City early on, and that the Naked Chef/Food Revolution star was one of Playfish's top choices.

"We were lucky enough to be in the right place and time with Jamie and what his organization was trying to do with social media," he says. "They loved the idea of the game, which celebrates the culinary world and being creative and self expressive. [Jamie's] philosophy is to encourage people to be excited about food, cooking food and sharing food and Restaurant City is all about that."

If this four-week promotion goes well, Sarris says they plan to have more Oliver in Restaurant City in the future. And, he says, they've also been discussing doing something similar in Playfish's biggest game, Pet Society, but that there's nothing to report at the moment.

Which now brings us to the growing trend in Facebook games -- celebrities. We've seen Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre in Mafia Wars, Lady Gaga in FarmVille, Dolly Parton will make an appearance in an upcoming Country Music Television branded game and, of course, there's Jamie Oliver in Restaurant City. Are social game companies just desperate for attention or is all of this name dropping somehow a sign that social gaming has hit the big time? Sarris naturally agrees with the latter idea.

"This shows an affirmation at just how far that social gaming has come and how much it has been accepted in the broader culture," says Sarris. "if you take a look at what's happening on the other side of the coin, celebrities, personalities or sports stars are recognizing the value of who they can reach in terms of being able to build their fan community through these games, people that they would not have necessarily been able to engage otherwise."
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