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B2B Creativity: Gaming unlocks a high score for Splunk

Hello, all you creative people! It’s time for another post in my B2B Creativity series.

Each month I’ve been exploring the best examples of creativity in B2B marketing, advertising, and PR. Why? Because B2B doesn’t have to be boring!

This week, I wanted to write about a campaign that caught my eye on LinkedIn recently — Journey to Observability, from Splunk (now part of Cisco).

Journey to Observability — a Splunk game

I’ve always loved the idea of gaming as a channel for B2B. It seems so ‘consumer’ in nature, and yet it can be such an effective format. Last year I even helped launch an 8-bit video game with Wildfire to raise awareness around the lack of creativity in B2B (you can play it here).

Splunk has taken that idea to the next level. With Journey to Observability, you get to experience the benefits of Splunk’s platform first-hand, in the form of an interactive online game.

In the game, you’re invited to run your own t-shirt company, which quickly experiences a shipping error. Your task is to navigate various disjointed departments to identify and fix the error — all while stopping your customer satisfaction score from dropping off a cliff.

Of course, once you start using various Splunk observability tools, the whole game gets a lot easier.

Gaming — not just a bit of fun

While the game’s surprisingly entertaining to play, it’s also a really powerful marketing tool.

With so much identical B2B content on LinkedIn, interactive and visual campaigns like this are exactly what’s needed to stand out. When it appeared on my feed I immediately stopped scrolling and clicked through. I was also surprised by how long I spent playing the game, showing real stickiness as a content format.

But it’s not just about engagement. Journey to Observability always does an amazing job of bringing the problems that Splunk solves to life — far more so than a traditional case study. It also provides a light-touch way of engaging with Splunk’s platform for people who aren’t far enough down the funnel to request a demo.

Despite having never used Splunk, I came away with at least some level of new understanding of what the platform looks like and exactly what it does. Many marketers would pay a fortune for that kind of product awareness!

New formats for creativity

For me, a big part of adopting creativity into B2B simply comes down to being open to experimenting with new things — even if it’s just a new format beyond blog posts, whitepapers, and case studies.

According to recent B2B Creativity research, 26% of B2B marketers worry that their audiences don’t value creativity. In reality, the opposite is true. Creativity is what bored B2B buyers are looking for, often providing an essential ‘in’ for brands.

That certainly seems to be the case for Journey to Observability. As Splunk’s Greg Leffler explains, “The market need was to reach an audience (observability practitioners) that can be resistant to 'marketing'.

“These folks extensively run ad blockers, they often avoid trade press and portals, and they prefer to get information word-of-mouth or in 'watering holes'. Even if you're able to break through ad-blocking and present 'marketing' messaging it’s still sometimes poorly received.

“The advantage of using interactive programming is that you build it from the perspective of the player first and only after you've created something that's entertaining and a diversion from their normal work do you layer in marketing, so that it reaches the audience in an authentic and engaging way.”

Of course, as well as being authentic, Splunk has also worked hard to ensure that the look and feel of its brand isn’t being lost in the gameplay.

As Greg puts it, “There is a strong projection of brand as part of these games. The art style, assets, and script all combine to create and reinforce a perception of your brand. We went to great lengths to make sure that the gameplay experience in all of our games aligns with our brand and reinforces the image of Splunk with practitioners as a company that "has your back"; we understand their problems and how they see the world and want them to know that.”

Splunk’s Journey to Observability campaign also includes those all-important calls to action, a form field for collecting leads, and even the opportunity to win prizes. By combining these elements, the game continues to rack up engagement figures and, most importantly, new leads.

Play the full game at

B2B Creativity is a fortnightly column curated and written by Alex Warren, tech PR professional at Wildfire.

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