FEATURE: Christmas marketing

James Batchelor
0098709

With so many massive titles due out between now and Christmas, publishers will be calling out to gamers and gifters through some equally gargantuan campaigns. MCV provides a complete rundown of every major moment...

UBISOFT

Six titles will benefit from the bulk of Ubisoft’s marketing investment this quarter – but those are only the tip of the publisher’s new release iceberg.

Just Dance 3, Assassin’s Creed: Revelations, Tintin, Rayman Origins, ABBA: You Can Dance and The Black Eyed Peas Experience will each receive a dedicated six-figure multimedia campaign. These games will be promoted via heavyweight TV and retail activity around their respective launch dates. Ubi has also invested in series of unusual ventures for its biggest titles.

Just Dance 3, for example, is the official sponsor of Katy Perry’s UK and Ireland concert tour this autumn. The game will be playable at every venue and a competition will give fans the chance to meet the singer herself.Meanwhile, a free Just Dance 3 app will allow iPhone and Android users to create quick music videos using tracks from the game, and share them on Facebook and YouTube.

The game will also form one half of a combined sampling tour with Rayman Origins. A stand promoting the two brands will travel to seven city centres over the course of three weeks. Ubisoft is calling it “our most ambitious trial activity ever”, predicting an audience of 2.5m people.

For Assassin’s Creed, Ubisoft are running a more cerebral stunt with the Unlock The Animus cryptograms. This series of puzzles is supported by CVG and Gamesradar, as well as other Future publications, and gives players the chance to win a trip to Istanbul. .There will also be a combined campaign to promote Ubisoft’s Kinect-exclusive titles, including Rabbids: Alive & Kicking, Power-Up Heroes, Motionsports Adrenaline and My Self-Defence Coach.

SEGA

The two major pillars in Sega’s Q4 line-up are Sonic Generations and Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games. The former has signed a three-month sponsorship deal with The Simpsons on Sky, as well as cross promotion on Cartoon Network and inclusion in Nintendo’s 3DS campaign. There will also be TV ads on terrestrial and satellite channels, and online ads targeting gamers, children and gifters.

“We are very excited to have secured the sponsorship of The Simpsons on Sky,” said Sega marketing director Amanda Farr. “Not only is the programming a perfect fit, but the frequency it delivers will ensure great awareness from pre-launch right through to the key Christmas gifting period.” 

Meanwhile, Mario & Sonic represents Sega’s biggest ever TV spend – the publisher estimates that over 90 per cent of all UK housewives with kids will see the ad at least 14 times.

In print, a broad-reaching campaign covering specialist and national press began at the start of the year and will continue to run until the Olympic Games themselves.

But before all that is next week’s release of Football Manager 2012 and Sega is determined to own the footballing space with its campaign. A partnership with Sky Sports starts today (Friday, October 14th) and will run until the end of November. 20-second ads will run during all live games on Sky Sports and ESPN, with 30-second spots airing just before kick off in five Premier League games.

There will also be online advertising across various Premier League and Football League Club sites.

EA

Fresh from the record-breaking success of FIFA 12, Electronic Arts now turns its attention to its Q4 line-up.

As you would expect, Battlefield 3 is the firm’s biggest release.Advertising began on TV back in March during the FA Cup and will ramp up in the next few weeks. Even outdoor advertising began early, with 96-sheet banners springing up nationwide back in July. EA is teasing that they have something special lined up for the Waterloo area.Cinema ads lead the Need For Speed campaign and are expected to reach 17m people.

Online advertising will drive pre-orders, with EA predicting a further 15m impressions. And a sampling tour will take the game to driving events and shopping mall around the UK.

The Sims 3 Pets will also be a significant release, with plenty of strong advertising across TV, online and outdoor. The Create a Pet demo launched on PC last month.

ACTIVISION

The third-party publishing giant has a number of blockbusters out this Christmas, each with a dedicated triple-A campaign.

Perhaps the most ambitious product is Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure, the game that merges the worlds of video games and toys. Activision has been putting the game in consumers’ hands at GAMEfest and last week’s launch event at famous toy store Hamleys.

The publisher has also partnered with Nickelodeon for the nationwide Skylanders Live tour.Online and TV ads will run until December and 3D ads will run before screenings of two key kids blockbuster movies.

Goldeneye: Reloaded will target FPS?fans on PS3 and Xbox 360 with a range of print and online ads, as well as TV ads and 2,000 billboards.And let’s not forget that other little Activision shooter.

Yeah, that one.

While Activision is remaining tight-lipped about how it will be promoting Modern Warfare 3, you can guarantee it will be big. Really big. 

SONY

The PlayStation platform holder’s attentions will be divided between Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception, Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One and a raft of Move titles.

Uncharted is set to be Sony’s biggest launch in history and will be supported by a £5m campaign. This centres TV ads running throughout October and November. Uncharted 3 will also headline Sony’s sponsorship of Five Movies, which began in January.

Fans will be able to check out a short film exploring the concept of action heroes on all of PlayStation’s digital channels. This has been produced in collaboration with Oscar-winning director and producer Ed Zwick.Sony has partnered with Nickelodeon to give Ratchet &?Clank a strong placement on Nick.co.uk and idents on the company’s TV channels.

Additional ads will run around shows on the Turner and Disney networks.

The Move range is split into two tiers. The hero tier focuses on DanceStar Party, Medieval Moves and EyePet. These will be advertised in cinemas. DanceStar has already been signed as the sponsor for The Only Way Is Essex.The range tier – titles such as Move Fitness, Move Mind Bender, After Hours Athletes and Carnival Island – will be advertised on TV during popular family shows.

MICROSOFT

Microsoft has already kicked off Q4 in style with the multi-million selling Gears of War 3 but the hard work is far from over.

Today (Friday, October 14th) sees the release of Forza Motorsport 4 and the company has readied the series’ largest campaign to date. In addition to TV ads and Underground banners, Microsoft is running a special activity with Westfield Shopping Centre. Petrolheads can vote online or at Westfield to help build – and possibly win – a new supercar. 

Kinect Sports: Season Two will be supported by heavyweight online and TV campaigns, as well as a sponsorship of A League Of Their Own. An ongoing Kinect radio campaign on Absolute and Heart has reached millions so far this year.And then there’s the small matter of Halo: Combat Edition Anniversary. Expect Microsoft to go big on this title as its November 15th launch approaches.

NINTENDO

Christmas has always been a period in which Nintendo shines and 2011 looks like it will be no exception.

Naturally, the platform holder’s mascot Mario will be prominent thanks to the release of not one, but two new titles: Super Mario 3D Land and Mario Kart 7. The former will be accompanied by a huge marketing campaign across TV, print, online and outdoor. Nintendo will be driving on pre-orders with a separate online ad push, and web activity will spread to all major kids sites closer to launch.

There will also be a dedicated kids TV campaign as the game’s release nears.A similarly strong TV and online campaign is currently in the works for the launch of Zelda: Skyward Sword, which arrives on November 19th.

Nintendo will target women over 35 years old with a TV campaign for Professor Layton and the Spectre’s Call. The campaign will kick off before the game’s November 25th release to drive pre-orders.Finally, popular boy band One Direction will headline the campaign for Super Pokémon Rumble. The lads will discuss their love for the series in TV ads, which will run around kids’ shows and their episode of The X Factor.

WARNER BROS

The Dark Knight headlines Warner Bros’ Christmas line-up in the hotly-anticipated Batman: Arkham City.

Highlights of the monumental campaign behind this title include high-profile branded delivery tracks, London Underground banners and large digital screens, and the game’s sponsorship of the next MCM Expo.

In addition to TV ads, Batman will also appear on 6m Arkham City-branded packs of Rustlers snacks and 3m Kick Energy Cans. And retail will be supported with store takeovers and a vast range of POS, including security wraps and a 3D Batman model swinging down from a cord.

Meanwhile TV ads for Lord of the Rings: War In The North will run around The Walking Dead, Mock the Week and True Blood, with the online campaign expected to achieve 5.8m impressions. For LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7, Warner has secured partnerships with LEGOLAND Windsor for sampling opportunities and Harrods for a Harry Potter pop-up shop, as well as cross promotions with the DVD release of The Deathly Hallows: Part 2. Sesame Street: Once Upon A Monster will be advertised on TV around kids programmes on ITV, C4, Five, Milkshake, Nick Jnr and Boomerang.

The title is also being promoted at retail, both in specialist games stores and around the new Elmo toy range.

HMV

Last year, HMV used its prowess in the worlds of music, games and even film to create one all-encompassing campaign, where familiar icons such as Mario, Sonic, Stewie Griffin and Lady Gaga were portrayed as baubles.

Expect something similar this year from the Christmas Lights campaign. This will see ads running across TV, radio, outdoor, in-store POS, print, online and the PureHMV loyalty scheme.

HMV’s head of games Tim Ellis said: “There are some brilliant titles coming out and our share for games always goes up at Christmas, so we’re keen to capitalise on this and to ensure games are a key part of our marketing.”

DISNEY INTERACTIVE STUDIOS

The flagship of the publisher’s line-up is Disney Universe, a multiplayer action game that takes players into the various classic worlds of Disney. The title was shown off at GAMEfest, where Disney’s stand was packed with families wanting to try out the game. The event’s auditorium was completely filled during the publisher’s on-stage presentation.

Anyone that wasn’t able to make it to the event will be able to get hands on with the game by looking out for the company’s AdVans. These will be tour the country and are run with support form Disney’s retail partner.Online campaign kicked off this month and will run until the end of the year. This includes site takeovers on Miniclip and other kids sites, as well as Disney’s YouTube and Facebook pages.

TV ads will air on kids and family channels around launch and in the run-up to Christmas. Disney Universe will feature in the pre-roll ads before The X Factor on ITV.com, as well as on Sky Anytime and Demand Five.Finally, the game will be advertised in over 100 retail locations with six-sheet posters and digital billboards.

The game will arrive on shelves on October 28th, and a demo will be available from November 1st. Disney Interactive will also be promoting the 3DS version of this summer’s Cars 2: The Video Game, due on November 11th, around the launch of the DVD.

BETHESDA

Two of Bethesda’s four blockbuster releases for 2011 land on shelves this quarter.

Rage arrived last week and will continue to be supported by TV ads throughout October. Cinema trailers will run before screenings of Drive and Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark and outdoor ads are running on the London Underground and buses.

Now the publisher’s main focus turns to Skyrim, which marks the return of its flagship franchise The Elder Scrolls. Like Rage, this will be advertised before some of Christmas’ biggest movies, including Immortals and The Thing. There will even be foyer and washroom ads in over 100 multiplexes.

Skyrim will also benefit from one of Bethesda’s biggest and most extensive TV campaigns ever. 60, 30 and 20-second spots will run around key programming such as the Champions League from the end of October.Print ads will run in specialist gaming publications, with a Shortlist cover wrap at launch and a series of advertorials in T3, Empire, Total Film and SFX.

Lovefilm subscribers will receive Skyrim-branded envelopes if they order movies relevant to the game’s audience, while Forbidden Planet will give away branded carrier bags.Finally, a national campaign will take over key London Underground locations, with banners running for a month around release.

GAME GROUP

Christmas is a busy time for the UK’s leading specialist games retailer so a comprehensive marketing plan is needed to grab the attentions of both gamers and gifters.

Once again, both of the Group’s brands – GAME and Gamestation – will be given a dedicated campaign, each designed to reflect their different target demographics. The focus will be on TV advertising as the retailer tries to reach the widest possible audience. There will also be a series of press ads relevant to each chain’s core audience.

Online advertising will also be important, with more emphasis given to web ads than ever before to reflect the increase in customers researching and making their purchases via the Internet.

THQ

THQ has prepared three gargantuan campaigns for its major releases WWE 12, Saints Row: The Third and the uDraw range.

For Saints Row, the publisher has prepared heavyweight TV advertising running from November 1st until New Year’s Eve and a widespread London Underground ad push, with digital screens secured at Piccadilly Circus and Oxford Street.THQ is also working closely with retail to drive the game’s Professor Denki pre-order pack. This content has even been available to try out in the GAMEfest and Eurogamer Expo demos to further tempt early adopters.

TV advertising for WWE 12 started last week with a 60-second spot running around a WWE pay-per-view event. Ads will run until the end of the year, with particular prominence around the WWE Live Tour.

THQ is also following the tour with outdoor ads around the arenas in each UK city where WWE is being held, as well as regional radio advertising for three to four days around each event. There will even be sampling opportunities, giving over 120,000 WWE fans the chance to try out the game before it launches.

Finally, the publisher is relaunching its uDraw range, which has already garnered an installed base of 1.7m Wii owners globally since March. Not only will there be new bundles for the Nintendo version, the uDraw Game Tablet will also make its debut on Xbox 360 and PS3.

THQ is investing £2m in making this the must-have gift for Christmas and has sponsored the My Way! Campaign, an initiative started by First News and the Department for Education to help children with special needs. The game has supported the venture’s events with celebrity ambassador Henry Winkler. That’s right – Arthur Fonzerelli. The Fonz.

NAMCO BANDAI

Dark Souls kicked off Namco Bandai’s Q4 line-up last week, promoted by a heavy investment in online advertising, community events, consumer shows and print ads.

But there’s been no time to rest for the publisher with its next hit, Ace Combat: Assault Horizon, arriving on shelves today (Friday, October 14th). The aerial action title represents Namco Bandai’s biggest marketing investment of the year. It has been covered by the gaming press throughout the last few months, while online ads have pushed both the demo and the Day One edition.

Perhaps the most notable pillar of this campaign has been Namco’s partnership with Turtle Beach. The audio specialist has worked closely with the publisher on co-branded ads, as well as providing headsets for public demos of Ace Combat.Dragon Ball Z: Ultimate Tenkaichi follow on October 28th, and is being promoted with hands-on opportunities at community events, GAMEfest and this month’s MCM Expo.

Finally, November 25th sees the arrival of Ben 10: Galactic Racing, the latest title in the UK’s most popular boys franchise. Namco is working closely with Cartoon Network, with plenty of advertising on the cartoon’s official site and in the Official Ben 10 Magazine. These will run for several months, well into 2012.

Most interestingly, Namco Bandai is working with UK primary schools to deliver science lesson plans about the universe based on Ben 10: Galactic Racing.

RISING STAR

The specialist UK publisher has one of the most varied release slates on the market this Christmas, once again bringing a selection of popular and cult Japanese titles to our shores.

The firm’s three biggest titles are King of Fighters XIII, Dodonpachi Resurrection and Cradle of Rome 2. Each title will receive dedicated online ads across the Google Display Network and a range of POS.King of Fighters and Dodonpachi will also get prominent positions on the Xbox 360 and PS3 dashboards respectively.

Rising Star will also reach out to each franchise’s fans via specially organised tournaments.

The two titles will be combined on the publisher’s stand at this month’s MCM Expo to create the Rising Star Games Home Arcade Experience.The publisher will also continue pushing Harvest Moon: Grand Bazaar, which was promoted via a press event at Surrey Docks Farm last month. Rising Star has even ‘twinned’ the franchise with the farm.

NORDIC GAMES

This Christmas, Nordic Games will be focusing on its We Sing brand, a popular series of Wii karaoke titles, as well as the very first iteration of We Dance.

The latter will be reaching out to music fans via cross-promotional social media competitions and subscriber mailouts with the likes of Skint Records and Ministry of Sound. It has also tied in with various dance schools, competitions and events, including Move It, the UK’s biggest street dance competition.

Meanwhile, Nordic has teamed up with the British Music Experience at the O2 to promote We Sing UK Hits. The game will be advertised at the arena as well as at retail, and competitions have been arranged between the two.We Sing Rock, due out on October 28th, has been promoted through flyers included in all copies of We Sing and We Dance as well as on both games’ sites. The game is also the after-show party sponsor for this month’s Games Media Awards.

The entire franchise will have a strong presence at retail this Christmas thanks to a special standee styled on a ‘50s mic, which rolls out to stores in November.

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Tags: uk , video games , marketing , christmas

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