Match-3 Ad Creatives Analyzed: Creative Trends for Puzzle Games

Match-3 Ad Creatives Analyzed: Creative Trends for Puzzle Games

by Andrea Knezovic

Not sure how to advertise a match-3 puzzle game? The first step is finding out what your competitors are doing. To help you out, I’ve analyzed match-3 ad creatives from three popular games – Penny & Flo: Finding Home, Farm Heroes Saga, and Gordon Ramsay: Chef Blast.

I will break down its creative concept, intro, game features, target audience, atmosphere, call-to-action, and ad copy.

Let’s dive right in!

Penny & Flo: Finding Home

Game Info

Published by Tactile Games in 2020, Penny & Flo is a match-3 puzzle game with renovation, design, makeover, and story-based meta-layers.

The goal of the game is to help the main characters, Penny and Flo, to renovate a mansion of a former Hollywood actress.

Downloads (iOS data, GameRefinery): more than 1.6 million

Revenue (iOS data, GameRefinery): more than $9 million

Penny & Flo: Finding Home Ad Example

In this section, I’ll break down one of Penny & Flo Facebook ads. Here’s what makes it one of the top match-3 ad creatives.

Creative Concept

The majority of scenes in this Penny & Flo ad creative are story-based. Narrative ads are one of the top creative trends for puzzle and casual games, so it makes sense to capitalize on them.

The story is about a female character who finds out her partner is cheating. Naturally, she’s heartbroken.

The woman then gets a makeover that ends up being a disaster. To make the matter worse, her ex and his new girlfriend walk past her in a restaurant while she’s not looking her best.

Thus, fails are another popular creative trend this video ad utilizes.

penny and flo features

Game Features and Benefits

The ability to give game characters a makeover is presented as the main game feature and benefit in this ad.

However, it’s important to note that makeovers don’t seem to be a significant part of gameplay. In fact, when playing this game, I didn’t even come across any makeovers.

But showcasing makeovers attracts a specific type of audience, which is the goal here.

But more on that in the next section.

Target Audience (Player Motivations/Player Archetypes)

This ad creative for Penny & Flo attracts two groups of players.

The narrative game features displayed in the ad appeal to players who are motivated by escapism. Put simply, they want to escape to a fantasy world and immerse themselves in intricate storylines.

Because this ad’s storyline follows a female character who overcomes bad male behavior, we can conclude it targets a female audience. We see this type of storyline in many casual and puzzle game ads because the goal is to appeal to female gamers.

Furthermore, considering the makeover sequence, this ad creative attracts a group of players motivated by self-expression.

GameRefinery categorizes these players as Expressionists (player archetype). They enjoy design and renovation meta-layers as well as makeovers because that allows them to express themselves. Additionally, they also appreciate stories and narratives.

According to GameRefinery, the majority of Expressionists tend to be female (65%) between the ages of 16 and 24 (42%), and 25 and 44 (43%).

penny and flo intro


The intro is one of the most important parts of match-3 ad creatives because it has the power to make people keep watching.

Because of that, you should pay special attention to the first couple of seconds of your ad.

This Penny & Flo creative did a great job of capturing the viewer’s attention right from the start.

How did it achieve that?

By having a dramatic story as an opening scene (the girl finding out her partner is cheating on her).

Furthermore, after the girl sees her partner with another woman and breaks down crying, there’s a “help her” button. That’s another incentive to keep watching.

Atmosphere & Tone

This ad is an emotional rollercoaster. But that’s what makes it great.

The atmosphere and tone of this video ad change several times.

The first scene where we see two people make out is romantic and peaceful. But that lasts for literally one second.

The atmosphere quickly turns sour when we find out he’s a cheater and his girlfriend just caught him.

The atmosphere changes once again when the ad transitions to the makeover sequence. It’s more lighthearted, and even a bit humorous, which goes well with the disaster makeover.

And finally, the last scene of the ad is once again somber, which is emphasized by sad piano music.

penny and flo call to action

Call to Action

Can you guess what the CTA is for this ad creative?

That’s right, it’s the standard “Play now”.

A better option for this type of creative would be something more unique and related to the game. For example, “Help her” or “Get revenge”.

Ad Copy

Love? 💖 Friendship? 😄 Mansion? 🏡 Puzzles? 🎲
YES! Penny & Flo: Finding Home has it all!

Above is the ad copy for this Penny & Flo ad creative on Facebook. This copy is used for many different Penny & Flo ads, not just this one because it’s general.

It describes the main things players can find in this game – love, friendship, mansion, and puzzles.

Even though it’s simplistic, it does a good job of introducing the game.


Creative Concept: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Ad Copy: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Call to Action: ⭐️⭐️

Farm Heroes Saga

Game Info

Published by King, Farm Heroes Saga is a match-3 puzzle game similar to Candy Crush. However, instead of candy, Farm Heroes Saga features fruit and farm products.

Unlike many other match-3 games, Farm Heroes Saga doesn’t have renovation, design, or narrative meta-layers. The focus here is on puzzles.

Downloads (iOS data, GameRefinery): more than 15 million

Revenue (iOS data, GameRefinery): more than $220 million

Farm Heroes Saga Ad Example

In the following section, I’ll analyze one of Farm Heroes Saga Facebook creatives. Here’s what makes it stand out among match-3 ad creatives.

Creative Concept

You’re probably wondering how to present a simple match-3 game in a video ad so that it looks interesting?

Here’s an idea – have the game characters compete in a county fair.

Cropsies are cute plants that players match in Farm Heroes Saga, and they’re the main stars of this video creative. We have an adorable beetroot, carrot, and mushroom who enter the largest cropsie competition.

The charming carrot proclaims it hopes to win.

By matching, the three cropsies grow, and beetroot ends up being the winner. That, of course, makes the carrot sad.

Even though this is not a typical fail ad, the fact that the carrot failed to win makes it go in that direction.

farm heroes features

Game Features and Benefits

This video creative makes it very clear what Farm Heroes Saga is all about – match-3 puzzles.

Viewers get to meet the cropsies and learn how to match them. The pointer hand makes the video more immersive – the viewers get to experience what it’s like to play this game.

Target Audience (Player Motivations/Player Archetypes)

Most match-3 games attract a majority female audience. The same is true for Farm Heroes Saga.

If we go even deeper, Farm Heroes Saga attracts players who like cognitive challenges but also want to relax while playing mobile games. GameRefinery categorizes this group of players as Thinkers.

This player archetype enjoys puzzles to get their minds off other things. Solving puzzles gives them great satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment – this is what draws them back to gaming time and time again.

According to GameRefinery, 58% of Thinkers are women, while 42% are men. Furthermore, 40% are in the 25-44 age bracket, while 41% are older than 44. Only 19% of thinkers are younger than 25.

farm heroes intro


The first few seconds of this Farm Heroes Saga ad creative show the county fair and cropsies who have entered the largest cropsie competition.

Naturally, the viewers want to see which cropsie will win the competition, which makes them stick around and keep watching.

It’s a simple setup, but it works well for piquing the viewer’s interest in the ad.

Atmosphere & Tone

The overall atmosphere of this creative is light and joyful. The cropsies are delightful, the art style is colorful, and the sound effects are cheerful.

The only thing that slightly dampens the otherwise happy tone of this ad is the sad carrot who lost the competition.

farm heroes saga cta

Call to Action

As you might expect, the CTA is a generic “Play now”. While this universal call to action can work well, it can be beneficial to experiment with more original CTAs.

Ad Copy

Here’s the ad copy for this Farm Heroes Saga ad, “Switch and match the Cropsies in this farmtastic adventure!”

Firstly, this ad copy tells people the goal of this game – switch and match cropsies. Secondly, it explains the game setting and theme – farm adventure.

A nice touch is blending the words farm and fantastic to create a new word (farmtastic).

Creative Concept: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Ad Copy: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Call to Action: ⭐️⭐️

Gordon Ramsay: Chef Blast

Game Info

Published by Outplay, Gordon Ramsay: Chef Blast is a culinary-themed match-3 puzzle game.

Players need to match cubes to cook meals and become culinary masters. What makes this game unique among match-3 games is, of course, the fact that Gordon Ramsay is behind it and appears as a game character.

Downloads (iOS data, GameRefinery): more than 700 thousand

Revenue (iOS data, GameRefinery): more than $1 million

Gordon Ramsey: Chef Blast Ad Example

In the following section, I’ll break down a Facebook creative from Gordon Ramsey: Chef Blast. Here’s what makes it one of the top-performing match-3 ad creatives.

Creative Concept

What’s unique about this video ad is that it offers people a chance to win a trip for two to Las Vegas and an exclusive Gordon Ramsay dining experience.

To enter the draw, the players must download the game and play the first ten levels.

This ad is a killer combination of influencer marketing and a strategically designed contest.

Being one of the most popular chefs, restaurateurs, and a famous TV personality, Gordon Ramsay certainly has lots of fans and is known around the world.

The fact that this is his game, and he’s promoting it, makes the ad quite appealing not only to his fans but people who know of him.

Add to that the chance of winning a paid trip to Las Vegas, and you have gotten yourself a winning creative.

chef blast features

Game Features and Benefits

Most of the video shows Gordon Ramsay explaining the rules of the contest. However, there are some short gameplay scenes edited in as well.

What makes them attractive is that the game footage is shown on a real phone held by a famous chef.

Target Audience

What’s interesting about Gordon Ramsay is that he attracts a wide and diverse audience.

For example, his three shows – Hell’s Kitchen, Master Chef, and Hotel Hell – all rank in the top 10 TV shows in the 18-to-49-year-old demographic. (New York Times)

However, since we’re talking about a match-3 mobile game, it’s safe to assume its primary target audience is women older than 35.


According to Facebook Gaming’s report Genre and Great Games, people who play puzzle games tend to be women over the age of 35. Also, Gordon Ramsay is quite popular with older women.

chef blast intro


As I’ve explained before, an intro is one of the most important parts of a mobile game creative.

If you fail to intrigue viewers right away, you’ll lose them, possibly forever. But if you hook them in immediately, the chances they’ll continue watching and even download the game will rise significantly.

What makes this Gordon Ramsay: Chef Blast riveting right from the start is the appearance of the famous chef. Just his presence alone is powerful enough to make people stop and watch.

Of course, people who dislike Ramsay will ignore the ad.But those people are not the target audience, as they probably wouldn’t enjoy playing a Ramsay-themed game.

Atmosphere & Tone

If I could describe this ad in one word, it would be – exciting.

Gordon Ramsay’s energy, coupled with the opportunity to win an amazing prize, has contributed to this ad’s thrilling and upbeat atmosphere.

chef blast call to action

Call to Action

This video ad contains two CTAs – one at the very beginning and the other at the end.

The first call-to-action message comes from Gordon Ramsay, “Download my free mobile game Chef Blast.”

Naturally, because Ramsay, a celebrity, is telling viewers to download his game, this CTA is quite powerful.

At the end of the video, there’s a simple “Play now”, which is not as effective.

Ad Copy

Here’s the ad copy for this Chef Blast Facebook ad.

“There’s never too many chefs in the kitchen. Join Gordon Ramsay in his new puzzle game!”

The first sentence inverts the famous idiom, “too many chefs in the kitchen,” meaning it may not go well when too many people work on one thing.

The second part simply invites people to download this game. However, notice it says, “Join Gordon Ramsay”. That implies you can play this game together with Ramsay, a famous TV personality.

Once again, it’s a case of influencer marketing.

Creative Concept: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Ad Copy: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Call to Action: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Final Thoughts on Match-3 Ad Creatives

As we’ve seen from these very distinctive match-3 ad creatives, publishers use different strategies to advertise their games.

However, we can identify some genre trends.

Ad creatives that feature main game characters seem to be performing well. We see this in all three analyzed creatives.

Furthermore, story-based ads are currently very popular for match-3 puzzle games, especially those with a narrative meta-layer. Additionally, the so-called fail ads are also quite popular for this genre.

Influencer marketing keeps being an important mobile game trend. Naturally, this is the most powerful when the game itself is based around a famous person, like Ramsay.

Another great lesson you can pick up from these creatives is the importance of choosing the right target audience. Furthermore, considering player motivations when coming up with creatives can help you reach a wider audience and create more personalized ads.

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About Udonis

Udonis is an independent full-service mobile marketing agency that acquired more than 200,000,000 users for mobile games since 2018.

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