Justice League Finds A Target

Here’s a different take on a store ad, using classic comic book heroes to encourage shoppers to head to Target. The distinctive look will surely gather some attention if it’s slotted into adult-viewed programming.

{video link no longer active}

Sony’s Marketing Strategy: Greatness Awaits

Sony Computer Entertainment of America’s brand marketing head, senior vice president Guy Longworth, sat down with the [a]list daily at E3 to describe Sony’s marketing plans for the fall. It’s a difficult challenge ahead, trying to launch the PlayStation 4 while also increasing sales on the older PlayStation 3 and the PS Vita. How does Sony plan to market the PS4

“The PlayStation brand has been a brand that’s always been a little bit of an edgy brand,” Longworth said. “It’s done some phenomenal advertising. Look at our reel over the years, not everything’s been perfect — there’s been some horrors in there — but there’s been some great stuff, too. We just launched our new campaign today — ‘Greatness Awaits,’ it’s a 90-second spot {link no longer active} — which is truly epic. It dramatizes the greatness that gamers can achieve playing games on PlayStation. Those heroic moments that people truly love, it’s so epic.”

Sony’s ‘Michael’ ad reached a different emotional spot in the viewer than the typical game ad, but Sony has since changed to a new agency (Bartle Bogle Hegarty) for its new ads. “When I saw our spot, I was totally and absolutely blown away,” Longworth said. “I was cautiously optimistic it was going to be well-received and really make a deep emotional connection to games. We’ve been working on it for a year. We did a ton of work to really understand the gaming community, their relationship with PlayStation, the tone of voice. We went to pitch and BBH came up with this line, ‘Greatness Awaits’ and then created this campaign. It’s a long-term campaign for us, and this launch spot is truly epic, but you just never really know until it gets out there. We haven’t even launched on TV yet, and we’ve got 250,000 views on YouTube [it’s now over 1 million views — Ed.].”

This is the new campaign theme for Sony’s PlayStation brand, and it premiered at E3. “Greatness Awaits is the line, and right outside the front door of E3 right now is the sign Greatness Awaits,” Longworth said. “We think it beautifully articulates what awaits you if you come to the PlayStation platform. You can achieve your greatness, you can be an NBA star, you can be a football star, you can kill dragons, you can go on adventures — you can be a hero. You can live your dreams when you’re playing games. Gamers are so passionate, they love this stuff so much, we really wanted to make an emotional connection and help them understand that we really care about them and everything we do is laser-focused on meeting their needs.”

Longworth was cautious about characterizing Sony’s marketing spend for the campaign. “Other people might have more hard cash, but it’s not just about paid-for media any more,” Longworth said. “The owned media channels that we have are incredibly significant. The earned media that we can get is huge, and the sharing that goes on there is very significant.”

Longworth gave an example of how earned media can perform for Sony. “We did this little 22-second video clip which they knocked up over the weekend, which basically set out our used games policy,” he said. “We were kind of debating whether to put it into the press conference but we decided not to. After the press conference Adam and Shu tweeted it out; that was all we did. It got 3 million views in less than 24 hours.”

Despite the efficiency of earned media, Sony won’t be neglecting other channels. “We will be using all the channels of media that we have, and we will be investing heavily in paid-for media,” Longworth said. “But we’re also very fortunate in this day and age with the connected consumer to be able to leverage the phenomenal affinity with our brand. We have 35 million Facebook fans. The video we launched after the New York press event, we had 25 million views in a week and we’ve added another four million views since. These are unheard of numbers for a marketer like me, and I’ve worked on some big brands and some big companies. It’s humbling to be part of a team that is responsible for managing this brand and making sure we have the right products and services and that we continue to build this brand. I’m convinced our best days are ahead. I’m absolutely convinced in my mind that this brand’s going to go from strength to strength.”

The PlayStation Plus service and its continuity with the PS4 (and to the PS3 and PS Vita) was an important part of Sony’s announcement. It seems like an important part of the value package. “It very much is, it’s a critical part of our value proposition, it’s a critical part of our business frankly, and it’s a business that’s doing extremely well,” said Longworth. “We relaunched it last year as the Instant Game Collection, and offered gamers for 50 bucks a year an incredible range of games to play. We launched this onto PS Vita as well and that’s been incredibly well-received. We don’t see why we should charge people twice for a service that is really about allowing you to access great content and allowing you to experience everything that PlayStation has to offer. That’s why decided to extend it, and we’re not putting the price up, either, it’ll still be $50.”

The one part of the revised PlayStation Plus that generated some pushback was that if you want multiplayer experiences you will have to be a PlayStation Plus member. Longworth acknowledged the concern, but feels it’s justified. “We’re significantly upgrading our networked services,” Longworth explained. It’s a massive upgrade and all the things that gamers have been asking for are coming, and we feel that now with the overall value proposition that it’s OK for us to do that. It’s not just multiplayer, there’s a whole bunch of other things that we are offering.”

The PlayStation Plus edition of DriveClub was a surprise to a lot of people, judging from the crowd’s reaction at the announcement. “We want to demonstrate the value of the new platform, and we think that DriveClub demonstrates the social connected features almost better than any other game,” Longworth said. “The ability to race in teams, to create your own teams, to create the communities around it — we think that’s a great trial strategy for that game, because it’s a slightly pared down version of the original game so we think it’s a great trial strategy. It shows off our platform at its best, and that’s what we wanted to do.”

Putting out a free version of DriveClub points in the direction that Sony Online Entertainment has already taken, with free-to-play games that have the potential to sell virtual goods down the road. This business model has been successful on other platforms, and it looks like Sony is setting themselves up to try this more widely on PlayStation 4 if it’s successful. “Absolutely,” agreed Longworth. He also pointed out Sony’s support for indie developers in addition to new business models. “We’re huge supporters of the indies, they self-publish on our platform. It’s a differentiator. You saw again last night some incredible content from from some incredibly talented people.”

The up side for marketing is social media can amplify your message, but that can also be a downside if you make a misstep. The range of marketing channels also requires more creativity and effort to get the right messaging to the right places, and Longworth has a plan for that. “We very much have an integrated marketing communication approach,” Longworth explained. “We look at all different channels. The reality is that we don’t control the message any more. The community controls the message. What we can do is give our point of view on things.”

“I think the critical thing is to be authentic, to be true to who you are and what your values are, more than ever,” Longworth continued. “Any time you are not true to your values, not true to your identity, especially in an industry like ours you’re going to get absolutely nailed. They will literally call you, and they’ll email, and they’ll send you letters and come and stand outside your offices if need be. There’s no question we’re very, very conscious that this is a huge industry and people are passionate about it. What’s the right thing for gamers… That’s what I tell my team: Don’t come to me for a decision, ask yourself ‘What’s the right thing for gamers ‘ and that’s probably the right thing to do.”

Longworth puts the philosophy into perspective. “Obviously we’re a commercial organization and we have to pay the bills,” Longworth said. “If we want to keep delivering immersive experiences to gamers over time then we need to make some money. I think people understand that trade-off; we’re not a charity. But at the same time, if we really are laser-focused on understanding our gamers and understanding their needs and meeting and exceeding those needs, we think we’ll be successful for a long time to come.”

Read more of what Guy Longworth had to say on GamesIndustry International.

File Share Flavor Flav

Public Enemy has a lot of beefs but file sharing isn’t one of them.  The band is teaming up with Bit Torrent to promote their thirteenth studio album, Get Up, Stand Up.

The band is offering a bundle through Bit Torrent that includes their new album’s title track as a free download.  Once users sign up and download the song, they can unlock additional content such as the music video and video outtakes from the band. They can also jump from the Bit Torrent app over to iTunes to “Support the Artist” and buy the album’s remaining tracks.

For fans, outside of getting a free single, the coolest part of the promo has to be that one of the pieces of content to unlock is a version of the song that they can remix.

Public Enemy producer Gary Rinaldo laid out the philosophy behind the promo and partnership with Bit Torrent, saying, “The ability to freely share an archive and have flexibility on how it can be used is an extremely powerful tool when it comes to making music and media available.”

Source: PSFK

The ‘Creepy-Rapey-E3’

While the console war battled on between Sony and Microsoft at last week’s E3, some of the aftershock is about a different war, the one sounding off about women and sexism in the games industry. Yes, still.  Recently Kotaku writer Tina Amini revealed five women’s unfortunate encounters with harassment at the expo. These women were not booth babes, nor were they decked out in cosplay.  And no, they were not part of the “Just Dance” battle on stage — they were journalists, PR professionals and developers attempting to do their job for the love of video games.

“After speaking to a few female journalists and PR reps who attended E3 this year, I learned that, in the midst of all the excitement, they were unhappy to admit a more offensive common theme of this year’s show: They called it the —creepy-rapey-E3′,” writes Amini.

Amini outlines encounters from her female colleagues in the industry, “You might not have heard about the security guard that groped a journalist at this year’s E3. Or the writer who gave a PR woman his business card by slipping it in her dress. Or the women presumed to be booth babes simply because of the way they looked.”

The first uncomfortable anecdote comes from a female games reporter who asked to go unnamed. She recounted her encounter with one of the security guards at the expo.

Amini paints the scenario, “She waved to a friend. A security guard who was covering the back rooms where these interviews took place mistakenly thought that wave was meant for him. He approached her. She responded to his small talk casually — in a friendly manner, she said,” her eyes darting to the flashy big screen that showcased new trailers for upcoming games. She wasn’t invested in the conversation, she told me. It showed. Suddenly, he was standing over her. Looming, she told me. He wrapped his hands around her shoulders in such a way that ‘he could have easily moved’ her.”

“I was physically compromised,” she told Amini. “I wasn’t in a position I could’ve slipped out of. I had to shake him off.”

As if his touching and aggressive behavior wasn’t enough to shake up the young reporter, he proceeded to tell her, “It’s just that it’s funny, because I’m here and there are all these hot girls here and then you find out they’re gamers. I didn’t know girls like this existed, and I’m basically getting paid to stand here all day and look at them.”

The journalist’s account gives a picture of what it can be like for women at game conferences.  For anyone needing a visual reference, it’s captured by this GIF making the rounds that caught an expo staffer’s creepy behavior.

Amini talked to other women professionals who experienced moments at E3 bordering on harassment. Booth babes have become an area of controversy for the industry. Whether you agree with the marketing ploy or not, this next woman’s story shows the issue with scantily clad women at industry events and the assumptions it can provoke.

In one instance, two female PR reps were mistaken for booth babes and approached by an onlooker.  When they refused to take a picture with him, he blurted out, “If you’re a booth babe, isn’t it your job to take pictures with me?”

In another, a female journalist said she was exploited in a photo when she is taking a break at the Donkey Kong display at the Nintendo booth and noticed attendees were taking photos of her.

“A male onlooker snapped a photo at the same time. Nothing too strange about that — I’ve taken photos of displays with people in them before, just to get a snapshot of the moment.”

But soon afterwards, she told Amini, someone came up and told her something chilling: the onlooker had zoomed in and taken a photo of her breasts.  The man was confronted by PR representatives and forced to delete the photo.

The E3 show floor wasn’t the only place with displays of sexism gone wild. The same PR representative who mistaken for a booth babe earlier had another situation at an industry party, where a visibly drunk man pulled out his business card and slowly moved it into her cleavage. She was left frozen and recalled to Amini that she was left feeling “completely helpless.”

Another account comes from Amini’s writing colleague Jenn Frank, who has written for Kotaku. Frank tells the story of two employees at a noted AAA studios who thought they would charm her by calling her unattractive and joking about her glasses.  Their intentions?

“If you can make a woman feel bad about herself you can sleep with her, but it just isn’t working tonight,” the developer was overheard saying afterwards.

Amini writes, “I’ve never written a story like this before. I’ve admittedly been afraid to in the past. These confessions are always met with skepticism and hatred and accusations. The bravery to step up is rarely celebrated. It’s seen as whiny and entitled. That reaction is baffling. And I’m glad that the women who spoke with me for this story shared their experiences. They’re why I know I can’t be afraid anymore. I don’t have that choice.”

Source: Kotaku

Sony Online Entertainment Announces 2013 G.I.R.L. Scholarship Winner

Sony Online Entertainment (SOE) announced yesterday that Esther Wu of Brooklyn, New York has been named the winner of the 2013 Gamers in Real Life (G.I.R.L.) Scholarship. Now in its sixth year, the scholarship program was established to encourage women to pursue careers in the video game industry in the areas of development and design.

Wu, a student at Savannah College of Art and Design in Savannah, Georgia, was awarded a $10,000 scholarship to use for her college tuition and other educational expenses. In addition, she will spend 10 weeks on a paid internship at SOE’s headquarters in San Diego. Following graduation, Wu aspires to work as a concept artist on AAA video games.

“It’s exhilarating to be selected for this amazing opportunity to work alongside some of the industry’s best game artists at SOE in California,” said Wu. “I think this competition is important because it represents a stepping stone for artists and helps build awareness about gender in the work environment.”

As part of the competition, finalists were asked to submit two pieces of original concept art inspired by either PlanetSide 2 or EverQuest II, and an essay discussing their views on women in the gaming industry. The submission was reviewed by a panel of judges from Sony Online Entertainment. Wu’s winning art entry was inspired by the vehicles and characters in PlanetSide 2. Her goal with the piece was to transform the general design and add new perspective.

“As public conversation on gender issues evolves, SOE is committed to leading by example and providing talented women with relevant experience in the games industry,” said Laura Naviaux, Senior Vice President of Global Sales and Marketing, Sony Online Entertainment. “We urge more organizations to consider similar scholarship programs focused on encouraging these talented artists and designers – we need more women in this industry.”

“Esther’s entry exhibited both creativity and an impressive level of concept skills,” said Joe Shoopack, Director of Artist Development, Sony Online Entertainment. “Every year the entries continue to impress us more, showcasing the incredible talent of student artists and designers across the country.”

For the 2013 internship and scholarship, Sony Online Entertainment received applications from students at universities across the country. The G.I.R.L. submission phase closed on March 29, 2013. Scholarship America, SOE’s scholarship administrator, narrowed down the submissions to a pool of semi-finalists based on certain eligibility criteria.

For more information about G.I.R.L., please visit www.girl.soe.com {link no longer active}. To follow G.I.R.L. on Twitter, go to https://twitter.com/SOE_GIRL {link no longer active} or to join G.I.R.L. on Facebook, go to http://tinyurl.com/SOE-GIRL {link no longer active}.


Instagram Releases Video, Challenges Vine

Facebook-owned photo sharing social network Instagram has implemented a change to the program today that allows users to take video on their phone and share it with their followers. The new functionality allows users to take up to 15 seconds of video and apply Instagram’s trademark filters.

The move makes Instagram a direct competitor to micro-videoblogging site Vine, which allows users to share short 6 second videos. Vine returned fire after Instagram’s release today by announcing several changes to their own software, like saving drafts for later.

Brands have already begun to utilize the new Instagram feature for marketing purposes, wasting no time in exploring this new marketing possibility. Yoga gear maker Lululemon has already uploaded a 15 second video, “Every mat has a story to tell.” Reportedly, Burberry will also be releasing an Instagram ad in the next couple of days.

Video game companies have been using Vine to market their products, and it’s not hard to imagine them making the quick jump to Instagram Video too. Bethesda made a couple of Vines teasing their games The Evil Within and Wolfenstein before they were announced. The addition of another nine seconds to Vine’s six second limit opens up options to communicate more about a game and its universe, and for the talents of advertisers accustomed to creating narratives for 15-second spots.

Source: CNN

YouTube’s Partner’s Program Extends To Advertisers

YouTube has announced that they are extending their partners program to advertisers at the Cannes Lions advertising convention. The partners program extends currently to content providers on YouTube, helping them improve their production and distribution to gain more viewers and help with monetization.

This new branch of the partners program will work like the current program, except instead of independent content producers it will be advertisers getting help with their YouTube marketing. This partners program is aimed at getting companies to start producing content for the video site instead of just taking TV ads and re-purposing them for the Internet.

A lot of gamers use YouTube as a means of showing off their gameplay or games-based content already, and games have become one of the main pillars of content on the site. With so many YouTube channels out there dedicated to video games, will YouTube be extending this program to game advertisers If so, then game companies could begin utilizing this partners program to reach gamers who spend their free time on YouTube looking at original content. We may soon be seeing YouTubers like Two Best Friends Play teaming up with game companies to bring out brand new original content.

Source: TechCrunch

Agawi’s Ad Platform Promises In-App Demos

Discovery of mobile games (and other apps) is the key problem facing developers, who are seeing rising acquisition costs and well over a hundred different ad networks to work with. The challenge is getting good quality customers who like your game and will stick with it. If only you could give them a demo easily with no waiting! That’s where AppGlimpse comes in, using Agawi’s streaming technology to deliver game demos as part of in-app advertising.

It’s the logical next step in advertising, beyond a simple image or a short video to actual interactivity. The concept is that giving players a taste of the gameplay without having to download a game will increase the number of people who try the game out, and if they game is compelling a full download will follow.

Right now, AppGlimpse only works with Android versions of apps, but according to Agawi co-founder Peter Relan: “Given how fast Android is growing and the popularity of cross-platform tools like Unity, we think we should still be able to cover a ton of games.”

Initially, only games will be covered by this app, but future possibilities for other apps are not out of the question. In the meantime, having an in-game playable demo as an advertisement is a very tantalizing possibility for consumers looking to download new games.

We spoke with Agawi co-founder Rohan Relan about AppGlimpse and some of its features. Relan stressed the ease of use for developers.

“For publishers, integrating our SDK is as simple as integrating any other ad SDKs. Drop it in, add a few lines of code and you’re done,”Relan said. “Advertisers get the big win, though. Instead of spending time making a video, which is expensive and time consuming, they just give us the Android version of the game. We can stream that directly and time limit it to make a great 1 minute demo of the game.”

Relan noted that Agawi is also enabling deeper integrations, but their goal is to make basic integrations a snap.

The business model for AppGlimpse is still being developed.

“Part of the private beta is to work with developers to figure out the appropriate business model,” Relan said. “We’re starting with a traditional CPI model, but that may evolve as we get more feedback from developers. Since this is a completely new ad unit that hasn’t been done before, there’s a lot of discovering to do.”

Relan noted the flexibility of AppGlimpse. “Publishers can integrate our SDK to have the demos in the app,” Relan said. “As we get feedback from publishers, we’re going to start enabling additional features, like internal cross-promo, new form factors, etc.”

Agawi is also looking to work with ad networks as well as publishers. “We’re definitely open to partnering with ad networks so we can put this out in front of as many developers and users as possible,” Relan pointed out.

Performance is good, showing the experience Agawi has gained with years of working on streaming technology.

“We’ve been streaming games on mobile for over three years, so we’re really good at it,” said Relan. “In decent environments, it works really well. We make sure that the user has a good connection before we show the ad so we know they’ll have a good experience.”

That does come with some caveats, however. According to Relan, “That said, games that very high twitch are probably not ideal, so we might not be doing Bit Trip Runner on day 1. But most games don’t fall into that category and should demo very nicely on our platform.”

Developers can go to sign up here {link no longer active}.

Source: Agawi {link no longer active}

Sonic Events Announced In London, St. Louis

In an effort to market their new game Sonic: Lost World and breathe new life into the Sonic franchise, Sega has announced two separate events this summer. One is Sonic Boom, which will take place in Saint Louis on August 10th, and the other is Summer of Sonic which will take place in London on August 3. The theme of Summer of Sonic is “Metal Sonic and Badniks,” referencing Sonic’s metallic enemies. Sega is also sponsoring events in Japan under the Summer of Sonic title, including rock concerts featuring bands like Metallica and Linkin Park.

Trivia, costume contests, artwork displays and more Sonic-related goodies will be at both the St. Louis and London events. For several years, the Sonic franchise had faltered under the weight of underperforming games like Sonic Unleashed and Sonic and the Black Knight. Sonic Generations and Sonic Colors were both huge steps toward regaining fans’ good graces, and hopefully Sonic: Lost World will cement the speedy hedgehog’s return to form. To earn back the trust of consumers, events like these in the U.S. and UK go a long way toward connecting with a public that has grown distant from the “Blue Blur.”

Game marketers are often turning to events as a way to stand out from other products and grab some attention beyond the usual channels. Gathering people in public places will get a lot of press attention from local media, and often is amplified by social media to a very wide audience.

Source: Polygon