How The ‘Off Santa’s List’ Set Parties

Schweppes is running a randy holiday-themed campaign in the UK. The fizzy mixer maker is promoting its products in TV spots that take classic Christmas card scenes and turn them into embarrassing holiday party moments. Part of the charm is the simple technique in the ads, where minimal movement and zany voice-over are the only things turning Norman Rockwell-esque scenes into pop culture inspired mayhem.

 

Watch it at Brand Republic.

Activision’s $250 Million War Game

Writing for LA Times, Ben Fritz looks at the entertainment standard-setting launch of Activision s Modern Warfare 2. Amidst a recap of the game’s campaign and recent figures released by the publisher showcasing its success, Fritz drops a hammer in estimating the cost to Activision in making and launching the game at $250 million.  Citing sources close to the project, he says the game cost an estimated $40 million to $50 million to make, and that an astronomical additional $200 million was budgeted by Activision to bring it to market. One analyst projects that Activision will ultimately make more than $1 billion in revenue from the game on 15-20 million units sold.

Fritz also cites an Activision source as confirming that the publisher is pursuing an extension of the franchise as a massively multiplayer online game.

Nintendo’s ‘Convenient Tool’

With The New Super Mario Brothers out for Wii, AP looks at the influence of Nintendo’s iconic game character on the game industry and pop culture at large. AP credits Nintendo and Mario as rescuing videogames during the mid 1980s, when poor choices by then game giant Atari were widely blamed as forcing the industry into a slump.  While Nintendo introduced Mario to Western gamers in the early 1980s arcade classic Donkey Kong, it was when the original Super Mario Brothers was bundled with Nintendo Entertainment System consoles that the character took on its game hero icon status. Nintendo’s console pushed the limits of what gamers could expect to play at home, and Mario was the first taste they got of the new experience. The NES went on to sell 60 million units.

Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto says the character ultimately became a convenient tool, as a lovable hero who was applicable to a wide range of games. AP talks to Scott Steinberg of DigitalTrends, who wonders if it isn t the similarity of Mario s physical attributes to most gamers that made him so approachable.

Sony Confirms 3D For PS3

Sony has confirmed that the PS3 will support 3D games, reports Kotaku.  The announcement comes after reports earlier this fall that Sony was planning on rolling out a line of Bravia 3D HDTVs that would turn PS3 games into 3D. The company now says it plans to add 3D support to the console itself through firmware updates, and that it will release future 3D games. Read more at Kotaku.

From Square To Flat

Ars Technica’s Andrew Webster talks about the state of Japanese game development with Square Enix president Yoichi Wada. Wada pinpoints 2005 as the year Japan game companies began falling behind their Western counterparts. He implies the console transition was the reason, saying Japanese developers are just now starting to see recovery as they get accustomed to working with current consoles. Despite of that, he still sees a lack of up and coming game talent out of Japan. Square Enix recently brought UK developer Eidos into its fold, a move that Wada partly attributes to his company seeking culturally diverse talent. He says his company s goal is to create a flat world where the same games are appealing to audiences in the West and East. Among Square Enix’s plans are tightening the gap that exists between their games getting released in Japan and abroad to grow its Western audience. On the flip side, the company wants to find ways to overcome marketing and retail barriers to help grow Japan’s appetite for Western fare.

Recycling As A Retro Game

Volkswagen has been running a green-minded street campaign, the theme being injecting fun into otherwise mundane tasks that are environment friendly. One effort involved turning a subway staircase into a foot piano to inspire people to forego using the escalator. It turned into a hugely successful viral video for the company.

The third and latest project turns a bottle recycling machine on the street into an interactive game resembling something out of a retro arcade, to the glee of recyclers and anyone else passing by with a bottle. Surprisingly there s no explanation of whether any green thinking went into the electricity powering the machine.

As the organizers claim, the effort again increased the number of people who exhibited a specific behavior that helps the environment because they enjoyed the task. The campaign sums up the notion with the tagline We call it the fun theory.

 

Watch it at Creativity-Online.

Young Adults Most Influenced By Celebrity Endorsements

Research firm Mediaedge:cia has conducted a worldwide study that found 30 percent of young adults 18-34 years old are influenced by celebrities when making product decisions, reports Media Post. The figure more than halved for the next older age demographic, applying to only 14 percent of 35-54 year olds. The firm says celebrity associations also influence word-of-mouth marketing among young adults, with 50 percent of them more likely than those in the older adult bracket to recommend a celebrity endorsed product to their friends. Overall the firm found 29 percent of those surveyed worldwide say celebrities can influence their product choices, while 65 percent among the same set also said there are too many products promoted by celebrities.  Read more at MediaPost.

Three Acts And A Promise

Ubisoft continues to blur the line between games and film with Assassin’s Creed II. The publisher has released a launch trailer for the game, elements of which make up the spots currently running on TV. It’s essentially a long-form film trailer, very much focused on characters, storyline and the central conflict. The only thing missing is the star list.

The trailer highlights the lengths to which Ubisoft has gone not only to create a film-like campaign but also a cinematic game. The sequences in the trailer are all in-game, a mix of cut-scenes and game play, and they showcase Hollywood production values and film techniques throughout. Where the trailer does insert game action, it makes sure to show sequences hinting to game play improvements in design and mechanics. It’s a great template for selling a cinematic game franchise that’s meant to appeal to both hardcore and mainstream gamers.

 

Watch it at GameTrailers.

Facebook’s Marketing Grid

Author Paul Chaney wants to make sure businesses aren’t just skimming Facebook when it comes to using it as a marketing tool. Writing for MarketingProfs, Chaney offers an excerpt from his upcoming book on social media outlining Facebook tools that are essentially marketing facilitators. There is a bit of a primer here for the uninitiated, with Chaney pointing out the important places to have a presence within the network. He also offers descriptions and advice on how marketers can take advantage of deeper features, such as creating branded apps, connecting their brand profiles across social nets with Facebook Connect, and using the trend spotter tool Lexicon.

 

Read more at MarketingProfs.

IPhone Piracy Can Be A Money Drain

Analytics firm Pinch Media says iPhone developers should be concerned about the ongoing loss incurred by pirated apps and not just lost sales. As reported in Gamesindustry.biz, the firm says it conducted checks and found that as much as 60 percent of iPhone apps have been pirated. While developers may be concerned about lost sales, Pinch Media says the piracy doesn’t necessarily reflect customer loss in a one-to-one ratio as many of the pirates would not have bought the app. The bigger concern should be incurring costs from providing backend infrastructure for their apps when more than half of their “customers” could be pirates. Such backend support can include networked gaming or data sharing. Read more at Gamesindustry.biz.