It can be tough to get a product recognized in this busy market filled with known franchises. Electronic Arts was well aware of this for Dante’s Inferno, so they launched a nine-month campaign to help build awareness for the game. We talked with Phil Marineau, Sr. Product Manager for Dante’s Inferno, about what worked, what didn’t and what might be used again in the future.
Firstly, tell us a little big about your experience in the industry.
Phil Marineau: I started at Midway in 2000, launching the Hits and Ballers franchise. In 2004, I went to business school and went back to EA in 2006. I worked on most of the marketing for Dante’s Inferno and right now, I’m working on Bulletstorm, Death Spank and an unannounced title.
Bulletstorm looks like a really exciting shooter title to work on.
PM: People Can Fly and Epic have been working very hard to polish Bulletstorm. I’ve only played a couple levels, but it really delivers shooter action on a level never seen before.
Back to the subject at hand, tell us about the reception to the first teaser trailer you did for Dante’s Inferno during Spike’s VGAs. What did you hear from fans about that ad, and were you trying to set the tone for the campaign and game overall?
PM: It was more of a fantastic opportunity than anything else. We love Spike and GameTrailers, and they contacted us late to say there was an opportunity to do it for them. So it was put together very quickly, but it certainly made a good impression. We were thrilled to be included, so we were excited for it.
Tell us about the Hawk Panther and Mass: We Prey viral websites and how they came about.
PM: In regards to any of the viral stuff, in some of the research we looked at, people knew about the book Dante’s Inferno but they didn’t know many of the details. So we felt that providing some breakdown of what it was about was important, and we did a circle a month. We worked with some fantastic partners and we came up with a marketing idea for that specific circle of hell. On the ninth day of each month, we changed the website to reflect the new sin. It was funny, we were being blamed for random stuff — people saw something unusual and they assumed we were up to it!
Everyone remembers the Wrath boxes and Greed checks that you sent out -were you pleased with how they were received?
PM: We were thrilled. We were trying to be inclusive with that, though we certainly targeted certain editors. All the videos made, particularly over at Destructoid were great. Some people thought we were trying to bribe editors with the greed checks! To the poet Dante, greed equated to both hoarding and wasting, so we had responses based upon whether people spent or destroyed their checks. Some people were clever and donated the money to charity, and we had to come up with an ‘absolved’ response.
$200 seems awfullly cheap for a soul.
As for the wrath box, that also got a good response. There were the videos and Yahtzee mentioned it in his review. The only thing with wrath box was once you saw it once, you got the idea of what it was about — there weren’t a lot of other surprises to it.
It was funny to hear from Jonathan Knight that he was totally unaware of the fake religious protest at E3. How was that event set up?
PM: There were only three or four people at EA who knew about that beforehand. We did want natural reactions from the team. With all of our stunts, we wanted people to be talking about things. It was a great event for us. People wondered about it, but we got written about by LA Times and Washington Post, and it got the people talking about the game.
How did the Super Bowl ad with the Bill Withers song come to be and was EA pleased with their first Super Bowl spot?
PM: From the marketing standpoint, we couldn’t be more pleased. With Dante’s we’ve tried to have big ideas the whole time and that came up with this; we could buy a whole bunch of cable spots or we could go after the large reach, the large audience. We knew we had to leverage it as much as possible and we told management how we were going to do it. We got lucky; it was the third most watched spot of the Super Bowl. People, WSJ put it in the top five, Wired put it number one. Our Google searches were through the roof. So the Super Bowl spot worked well for us.
Are you pleased with the overall reception of Dante’s Inferno, commercially and otherwise?
PM: Absolutely. It was a great campaign to work on. Our marketers were energized and smart in terms of what the team was able to lend to it. We got over 30,000 members on Facebook. It rubbed some people the wrong way and some people thought we saturated, but with all the sequels coming, we had to stand out. The DLC has been launched and that’s gotten a good reception too.
What do you think you, EA and Visceral learned from the campaign that you’ll carry forward?
PM: The one thing I learned is that you need to be reactive to consumer scenarios. The Comic Con showing wasn’t well received, and also the reaction to the greed checks wasn’t all positive. In terms of nine months of communications, it’s all about getting people to recognize it. Like, Dead Space 2 the assets can be more rare as opposed to Dante’s where people don’t know about it. It was a successful roadmap for the future. One thing we can do for all future campaigns is the catchphrase ‘Go to Hell’ – we think we can use that for anything for the franchise going forward.
Thanks for your time Phil.