‘Really Naughty’ RPG

Aksys Games and Compile Heart have released details about the Really Naughty Limited Edition version of their role-playing game Record of Agarest War, reports Joystiq. The edition comes adorned with anime-style artwork of the game s lady characters, and is bundled with erotic extras such as the Yearning Ellis pillowcase and the Sensual Vira-Lor mouse pad. Joystiq highlights the mouse pad’s ergonomic breasts wrist rest. The bundle continues the lascivious tone set by the game makers for their otherwise standard-looking RPG game in reaching out to Western gamers. Read more at Joystiq.

Buzz Awards Call For Entries

Adweek Media has put out the call for entries for this year’s Buzz Awards. The organizers are now accepting submissions, with March 8 as the deadline to enter. The official announcement and link to the awards page follows:


There’s one winner per category, and the judges’ favorite grabs the Grand Prize, a full color spread in ADWEEK, BRANDWEEK and MEDIAWEEK profiling the winning effort-valued at $68,660!

Plus, entrants will have a chance to win one of our THREE people’s choice awards. People’s choice voting is open for the entire call for entries period. The earlier you enter, the more time your campaign has to gather votes!

See the categories and enter the awards at AdweekBuzz.

Playing Footsie

Adidas is launching an innovative augmented reality campaign for their Originals line of street shoes and apparel. People who buy one of five different shoes in the line can access online games using AR technology. The shoes come with codes that unlock the games once held up to a webcam, at which point the shoe itself becomes the controller. Mashable says the shoes are available in the UK and coming to the US on Feb. 15.

To promote the line, Adidas has put together yet another one of their nifty spots using CG animation to capture the imagination about footwear.  There s good reason why they keep showing up in the[a]listdaily.


Read more about the campaign and watch the TV spot at Mashable.

Exclusive: ‘Paranormal Activity’ Explained


By Meelad Sadat

In this exclusive interview, Amy Powell of Paramount Pictures shares how social marketing turned an independently produced handy-cam horror movie into the most profitable film of all time.



A. PowellAmy Powell, senior VP of interactive marketing, Paramount Pictures

Even as James Cameron’s “Avatar” gets ready to claim the crown of highest grossing film of all time, many would point to a meagerly budgeted independent movie as the film phenomenon of 2009. That movie is Paramount Pictures’ handy-cam horror “Paranormal Activity.” It was made on a student film equivalent budget of about $15,000 by unknown writer and director Oren Peli. Its two principals, Katie Featherston and Micah Sloat, were also complete unknowns. The film was finished in 2006 and went on the festival circuit, spending more than a year looking for a buyer. At one point it passed hands through legendary filmmaker Steven Spielberg, who considered remaking it. It was eventually picked up by Paramount and released as is, and with little marketing budget behind it. When it was over, “Paranormal Activity” became the most profitable film of all time, raking in more than $107 million in domestic box office sales and a staggering worldwide tally of nearly $124 million.

No small part of the credit for the film’s evolution into nationwide spectacle goes to Amy Powell, senior vice president of interactive marketing at Paramount Pictures. To hear her talk about “Paranormal Activity,” the film was her baby. It was a project she and her team coddled from the start, and according to her did so based on gut feeling. Ultimately it became one where she managed to break new ground in how to harness social media to market a film. More so, she arguably set a new standard in Hollywood for using Twitter and an online event service called Eventful to build a market for a movie. Powell spoke to the[a]listdaily about what inspired her to embrace social nets, and to explain how she used them to build the groundswell of support that led to record-setting success for “Paranormal Activity.”


How did Paramount decide to take a film like “Paranormal Activity” and distribute it nationwide?

We came to distribute it based upon initial screenings in which we offered prints [of the film] to select webmasters to host from around the country, and then encouraged them to go to our Facebook and Twitter accounts to give us their feedback on the film. It created a real sense of buzz online, specifically on Twitter and almost spontaneously following the screenings. At that point we realized there was a real fan base for the film and decided to create campaigns to allow fans to demand that the movie be released in their city. We rolled out specifically in those cities with the most fans demanding it. When we met a million demands we opened it nationwide, which was the agreement with our online fans.

How was that agreement set up with fans?

It was just the evolution of following the buzz for the movie. We were literally just tracking the buzz and the demand as it was coming in on a city by city basis. As different cities were climbing up the rank, we then rolled the movie out in accordance to that ranking, starting with NY and LA because those were the top two cities. From there, we rolled out the next ten, and we rolled out ten after that, and it kept growing and growing. Finally we decided to have this agreement with them and said, listen, if we hit a million demands we will actually roll it out nationwide.

You said online buzz was specifically being driven by Twitter. When did you recognize that it was growing into this beast feeding your fan base?

At the very beginning of the campaign I knew I wanted to have a really strong Twitter presence. I felt word of mouth for this movie would just be really strong based on reactions. We decided to create an account called TweetYourScream, which was based on the idea of really capturing all of the strong word of mouth by getting people as soon as they walked out of the movie theater. Immediately people were flooding TweetYourScream with their reactions, and it was so fun to watch. They couldn’t sleep, they were scared out of their mind, they didn’t want to drive home alone, these were all the things we were seeing. The stories were really, really fun because our initial screenings were all at midnight. By the time they got to their house it was probably two thirty or three in the morning. I started seeing [TweetYourScream] popping up as a trending topic on Twitter really fast. That was an instant indication that we had really good buzz.

How was the word getting out about the Twitter feed itself?

We initially had our screenings hosted by different webmasters in different cities set up really strategically. We said to each of those webmasters we wanted them to Twitter about the movie, and encourage those at their screenings to Twitter about it and direct it to our TweetYourScream account. It started with the webmasters being super supportive, and the people in those initial screenings. Having all those screenings happen simultaneously at midnight, everybody was hitting Twitter at the exact same time. That allowed us to take over trending topics. And once we became a trending topic, everyone else of-course took notice and it organically grew out from there.


You used Eventful to track and collect fan demands and arrange your screenings. The service used to be seen as more of a tool for demanding and tracking music concerts, festivals and that sort of thing rather than individual film releases. What made you decide to use it?

It was a tool that I was interested in using at some point. I thought this notion of following the buzz through fans by letting them demand the movie in their area was an interesting way of turning the usual cookie-cutter way of getting a movie to the marketplace on its ear. I thought this is a movie that’s perfect, and it was a movie that we had to convince everybody that we should distribute it. The studio was open and willing and wanting to try it, and we did. I’m really happy that it worked, and it only worked because the fans really loved the movie.

Were there certain cities or parts of the country that you pinpointed as central to your campaign, essentially places where fan demand fed interest to other areas?

It was a combination. The first two were NY and LA, and a lot of that was based on the population of those two cities. Then it was a mixture of small towns, big towns, from the country, from Canada. It was a mixture of different demographics demanding the movie. It was as if the local communities galvanized around the film. We just had pockets of fans popping up in a really diverse group of cities, and we were really faithful to those groups as they popped up and rewarded them with the film.

What sort of help did you get from Oren Peli and the rest of the film’s upstart talent?

We had a filmmaker who was incredibly sincere and wanted the fans to be part of the campaign. Oren was a trooper on this from the beginning. It was a labor of love for him, as I think he’d tell you. From the very beginning he was out there asking fans to work with him, to rally the other fans, to rally the studio to distribute the movie. He was a really amazing partner and collaborator in the entire process. The talent in the film joined the second part of our campaign in which we were able to have them on talk shows, on the cover of EW [Entertainment Weekly], and lots of exciting appearances. Print publications covered their story because their story was amazing. Oren’s story was interesting from a filmmaker perspective, and theirs was too from an actor’s perspective. As trite as it may sound, it truly was one big team of scrappy people coming together to make it work.

Was Oren marketing the movie in any way or doing any campaigning of his own prior to Paramount picking it up?

Oren had set up a web site for the movie years ago, and on there was a place to sign up for a newsletter, and facts about the movie. He had been running all of that by himself. We had the opportunity to become part of that. We were very careful to make sure it maintained his voice and his vision, and it was always true to the movie at its very, very base level.

If you had one lesson to impart to others from your part in marketing the most profitable movie ever made, what would it be?

Stay true to your instincts. We, and I mean ‘we’ as in my team, screened this movie and in our guts literally knew that we could market it within the social networks, and could really make it into what we thought would be a modest film run. I’m happy to say it was a very big film run. I’m so lucky to work in a place where they let us do that. I think so many companies are risk averse about wanting to experiment. If you really believe in it, you have got to stay with it. As I said before, be super scrappy about pulling every favor, every person you can call to dial in a favor for you to make it work, that’s what you do. You work twenty-four hours a day, and you go to every midnight screening, and you shake hands with every single fan in line. I just had a baby. I had a three-month old baby in my house, and I’d be in line shaking hands with seven hundred people saying, “Thanks for coming.” That’s what you do.

EA Sports Talk

Writing for GameSpot, Brendan Sinclair corners EA Sports president Peter Moore for a lengthy interview. Sinclair tees off with Tiger Woods and the recently launched online golf game from the publisher.  From there the interview picks Moore for info on EA’s return to Major League Baseball, the recently picked up NBA Jam license, plans for pro tennis and mixed martial arts games, and even EA Sports Active titles for Wii. And yet Sinclair never asks about FIFA, in a Word Cup year. Oi.


It s a great interview.  Read it at GameSpot.

Mess Of Interest In Mass Effect film

Mass Effect maker BioWare has told MTV that there is a lot of interest in turning the game property into film, both internally and in Hollywood. The franchise is about to get its sequel in Mass Effect 2, a title that’s been richly marketed by publisher EA. It hits shelves today amidst high expectations, and supported by broad critical praise. BioWare s project director on the title Casey Hudson told MTV that there is a tremendous amount of interest from people in Hollywood to make a major motion picture based on the IP. He said the studio is interested but in no rush as it weighs options, wanting to pursue something really right. MTV points out that the Mass Effect IP has already extended into books as well as a comic book line published by Dark Horse Comics.


Read more at MTV.

Nielsen To Combine TV And Online Ratings, With A Catch

Nielsen is rolling out a TV rating service blending traditional television ratings with measures for online TV show viewing, reports Variety.  The firm’s Extended Screen service will provide a single rating blending the two measurements, with data collected from meters placed in 7,500 households representing about 20,000 people. Under pressure to do so by network advertisers, Nielsen had launched a service measuring online video and installed meters in those households last month. In what Variety calls a wrinkle in the Extended Screen service, Nielsen is only collecting online data from internet versions of TV shows that have the exact same ads as their original broadcast. The criteria eliminates the most popular online destinations for internet TV including Hulu and the TV networks own web sites. Variety points to cable-provided online video services such as Comcast’s Xfinity and Time Warner’s TV Everywhere as places where some streamed shows retain their full ad load, making them eligible for Nielsen tracking. Nielsen said the first set of Extended Screen data will be available at the end of the year, although the firm will consider it evaluation data until they become part of its national ratings in February 2011. Read more at Variety.

Activision Creates In-house Media Position, Hires Agency Vet

Activision Blizzard has created a new in-house media position and hired Amy Stettler, an agency veteran who most recently headed the Apple account at OMD.  As reported by Adweek, Stettler joins the publisher in the newly created role of global head of media and customer engagement reporting to CMO Brad Jakeman.  Adweek cites sources in saying Stettler s hiring is part of Activision s strategy in pushing its franchises beyond hardcore gamers.  The outlet adds that part of her role will be managing the publisher’s relationship with media agency WPP Group Mediaedge:cia, representing a $200 million account.  Stettler s background is primarily agency work.  She served as global media director on the Apple account at Omnicom Group-owned agency OMD since 2006.  Prior to that, she worked at Ogilvy & Mather and Euro RSCG.  Read more at Adweek.

Is ComScore ‘Blackmailing’ For Net Data?

Writing for Business Insider, Henry Blodget adds a lot of flavor to news that internet data provider comScore has revised its internet measurement model. Blodget says comScore’s decision to follow a model similar to competitors Google Analytics and Quantcast shows it has finally caved to a decade of complaints. Until now the firm had relied only on a panel of web users and extrapolated traffic results from them, refusing to count actual site-side net traffic measured by cookies. As a result its traffic numbers were always significantly lower than what web sites measured through other services. ComScore is now incorporating the site-side data as an option in a hybrid traffic measurement model for users. But Blodget questions the decision to make the hybrid model only available to paying clients, at a fee of $10,000. He bluntly labels the move blackmail, adding that it amounts to comScore saying, “If you want your higher traffic numbers, you need to pay us $10,000.” He surmises that the move will only deepen the animosity some have felt towards comScore for its old measurement model, and keep driving them to the firm’s competitors. Read more at Business Insider.

Warner Looks To Un-Cage Mortal Kombat

Warner Bros. is looking to bring a Hollywood screenwriter on board as it considers a new film in the Mortal Kombat franchise. Kotaku is reporting on a story that appeared in horror film enthusiast site Bloody Disgusting. Warner bought the rights to Mortal Kombat from the IP’s creator Midway Games as that company was entering bankruptcy last year. Kotaku says Warner is hoping to get Oren Uziel on board to pen the script, citing the writer s known work as the publicly announced but now shelved film project Shimmer Lake.