Agency: Optimedia and Play
T-Mobile is one of those brands that knows it needs to highlight gaming in order to sell its products. The folks at T-Mobile know that they need to attract tech-savvy consumers who are likely gamers, so the brand regularly incorporates gamers and gaming themes into just about every promotion and product launch -- which is very smart. That broad-sword strategy definitely earns it a place on the list, as did Mike Racic's negotiating in addition to Walmart's marketing for an "NBA Baller's" promotion (score!). What fell short in all of this was the follow-through. AT&T had it for a brief period of time when it employed game marketing expert Glenn Broderick, but lost that consistency when the company lost him. I'm not sure I'd advocate every brand to go and recruit a games marketer, but if I were one of the big agencies, I'd be sure to have one in my stable! T-Mobile's approach is a safe and effective one, keeping the brand irregularly top-of-mind with the market segment, and likely for less spend than would be required with more consistency or deeper integration. Waiting in the wings is Sprint, the net neutrality champion, the brand that gamers love to love.
What more: My advice would be to spend less on traditional media -- or even banners and buttons -- and more on earning a rich and regular experience with current and prospective customers. It's great to be there more often than your competitors, but it's best to be there so often that consumers don't even consider them.