Deception Force: A Marketing Campaign that Changed the ‘Game’

When it comes to selling network security software, most companies like to tell a story about what could happen if you don’t have their product. The scare tactics of data breaches, stolen information, and the vulnerabilities of their current system are exposed in order to create a need within customers. The B2B company, Juniper turned this idea on its head in a 2014 by telling a marketing story where the IT department are the heroes, combating threats to their company, and with the use of Juniper Networks’ solutions they can save the day! This messaging was conveyed in a compelling way through an interactive video game application, Deception Force, and a Hollywood action movie quality trailer that introduced this app to those that might use this product.  

Juniper’s marketing campaign successfully combined storytelling and gamification to engage IT professionals with their app. After debuting the Deception Force trailer through highly targeted channels (technology sites), it received over 9,000 views in 12 weeks from their market. The mobile game in this time got downloaded 15,000 times. Through playing Deception Force, the user is not only entertained but also learns the value of Juniper’s software.


Targeting IT professionals, Juniper Networks understood that they were already being saturated with marketing messaging about data security. Juniper sought to find a way to capture the attention of these individuals, the technology decision makers for businesses, by creating a campaign that would engage them in a new way. They found that their target audience had a high propensity to be gamers and aligned their marketing medium with this interest. The marketing channels were also selected intentionally. The media plan for the campaign included the use of Juniper’s Facebook page and YouTube profile, along with a mix of targeted high-impact paid digital media outlets.

Juniper wanted to place their creative content adjacent to their competitors’ allowing audiences to see the stark difference between Juniper’s innovative content and that of other brands. With ads like the one below, Deception Force is shown to be the “the future of data security” and the audience is challenged to “Play the game. Deploy the solution. Save the Future.”

To maximize the campaign’s impact, Juniper promoted their game with its action-packed trailer and digital campaign “worthy of a blockbuster action franchise” right around the time of the RSA security industry conference. This international conference holds information security events helping businesses stay ahead of cyber threats. Juniper understood that during this time frame, cyber security was going to be on the forefront of the IT audience’s mind and timed their campaign accordingly.


The app truly looked and felt like an authentic action video game. Deception Force was built to both entertain and inform the audience about elements of Juniper’s product and their unique value proposition. The Juniper software doesn’t just protect companies from threats when they arise, it proactively prevents data center attacks with the latest intrusion deception technology. This technology was the inspiration for the name of the game, Deception Force, and is interwoven into each aspect of the game. Deception Force drove home to the players exactly what Juniper’s software was built to do through the game’s storyline. The mission of the game conveyed the value of the software that allows its users to “know what is attacking you, control their actions, and expose them to the global database”. The iOS and Android app let players search for and destroy security threats while learning about Juniper’s latest technology.

The player remained the hero of the game, but the role that Juniper’s products played still remained clear throughout Deception Force. To Know, Control, and Expose, the player had to use weapons and features based on Juniper’s products. The weapon used by players to neutralize attacks and stop damage was “based on Juniper Webapp Secure/DOOS Secure Tech”. The way the players exposed the threats was by uploading the threat to Juniper’s Spotlight Secure Database. By playing a supporting role to the user, Juniper showed how it could add value to the IT department all the while acknowledging the people that need to take charge of this mission of data security.

The threats in the game were based off of real threats that the IT players are trying to secure their companies against in their professional lives. Enemies like the Data Nibbler and DDoS were given a physical form in Deception Force, reminding the user of why Juniper’s product is necessary and undoubtedly entertaining the user as they saw how the game reimagined these threats.

Deception Force communicated with its audience in a way that built excitement about data security and conveyed a sense of humor that humanized Juniper. The welcome message in the game tells the user to “Defeat the enemy. Deploy the solution. And try not to embarrass yourself, okay?”. There were also many ways that the user could interact with others through the game. As the player enjoyed the game, he/she was given the chance to invite friends or coworkers that would enjoy all the IT-oriented network security elements of the game that were so artfully included throughout. They could also share their score on Facebook or create an account to compare their scores with other players of the game.

With Deception Force, the act of securing a business network became an engaging game that clearly conveyed how Juniper’s software could aid in this mission. The 15,000 people that downloaded a game that was targeted to IT professionals got the chance to experience a gamified version of their professional life, adding an element of excitement and creating engagement with the Juniper brand.


Gamification is a great way to incorporate a storyline into marketing. The mission provides a plot. Casting the audience as the main character keeps the customer in an active role. With this type of campaign, audiences are interacting with the marketing story in a whole new manner. The point of gamification is to encourage ongoing engagement with a product or service. By making each interaction fun and entertaining, Deception Force did just that.

What Juniper’s marketing campaign did incredibly well was creating a game and storyline that drove a high level of involvement with the brand. Audiences weren’t simply taking in content, they were involving themselves in it, making decisions, becoming the hero of the story. With B2B companies, the customer has its own business objectives. They play an active role in pursuit of their own mission and it is important to acknowledge this. The marketing efforts that target these customers should recognize the business missions of their customers and show how your company can help them find success in this. Keeping this in mind with B2B marketing will open avenues to creative campaigns like Deception Force that change the ‘game’ in your industry and engage thousands in your B2B audience.

Ready to engage your audience with innovative marketing? Contact Magic Flight Studios here.

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