Sonic the Hedgehog fans have no doubt noticed an influx of activity across the brand, from video games to TV shows and even an upcoming film. For Ivo Gerscovich, Sega’s chief brand officer for Sonic & SVP, keeping the brand fresh is a balance between honoring legacy and trying brave, new things.
“Part of overseeing the brand is keeping one foot in the past,” Gerscovich told [a]listdaily at this year’s E3. “Being true to the traditions and the history and the legacy of Sonic, but also looking at the future and what kind of new and interesting things [we can] do.” Most importantly, he added, is to create campaigns that you would enjoy, yourself.
“The truth is, we’re having a lot of fun,” Gersovich smiled. “If we, as employees of Sega and people overseeing the brand aren’t having fun, how can we expect the consumers to have fun? We’re really trying to have fun with the brand and do things that make us feel good and things that excite us.”
Sonic the Hedgehog turned 25 on June 23 and to celebrate, Sega staged a Twitter takeover by characters Sonic and Doctor Eggman. Users were encouraged to send questions to the channel using the hashtag, #AskSonic. In return, a selection of responses were custom-recorded by voice actors, Roger Craig Smith (Sonic) and Doctor Eggman (Mike Pollock).
In addition to answering fan questions, Sonic and Eggman have taken the opportunity to have a little fun with fellow video game franchises. When the official Assassin’s Creed account tweeted about Ezio’s birthday, Roger Craig Smith (who also happens to play the voice of Ezio), pretended to be kidnapped by Doctor Eggman. Ubisoft promptly paid the ransom of cat pictures in the form of a kitten dressed in an Assassin’s hood.
— Sonic the Hedgehog (@sonic_hedgehog) June 24, 2016
Other game franchises got in on the fun, including the official Deus Ex account asking Sonic’s advice for making their protagonist, Adam Jensen, go faster. Breaking the fourth wall, Sonic referred to Sega as “dad.” Doctor Eggman even poked fun at Sonic for his game, Sonic the Hedgehog (Sonic ’06) which was notoriously full of glitches and extremely long load times.
The publicity stunt not only brought Sega’s iconic franchise to life, but had much of the Twitterverse scrambling to be noticed. The Sonic and Eggman account also took a proactive approach to marketing, recording custom voice messages for notable influencers such as Twitch, GameGrumps and Xavier Woods.
Doctor Eggman took over the official Twitter account last November, garnering a positive response from the fans. “On social, we’re pioneering a new strategy that throws the old, boring, marketing text out the window, and replaces it with something fun, new and engaging,” Aaron Webber, PR and social media manager for Sonic told [a]listdaily following the #AskEggman takeover. “It fits perfectly with Sonic’s signature attitude and the tone and style that once made him so popular.”
Sega’s determination to revitalize the legacy and “win back the customer’s trust” comes at a pivotal time for the franchise, when new video game technology is all the rage and gamers who grew up with Sonic in the ’90s are having children of their own. The #AskSonic Twitter takeover is a step in the right direction, both in celebrating the character’s 25th anniversary and gaining momentum for the 2018 film adaptation.