CAMPAIGNS: Launching Lara as a market icon - Product Launch

The computer game Tomb Raider was an instant hit when it arrived in the shops in November 1996. Its heroine, Lara Croft, was the first-ever digital sex symbol, an unfeasibly busty gun-toting cyber-chick who dived through a series of mind-bending mazes at the player’s command.

The computer game Tomb Raider was an instant hit when it arrived in

the shops in November 1996. Its heroine, Lara Croft, was the first-ever

digital sex symbol, an unfeasibly busty gun-toting cyber-chick who dived

through a series of mind-bending mazes at the player’s command.



Lara’s inventors at Core Design had given her a fully-formed identity

with a detailed personal history. The game’s distributors, Eidos

Interactive, hired Herald Communications to help launch her onto the

market.



Objectives



To turn Lara Croft into the best-known female computer game character,

and to build her reputation in the mainstream media with a view to

dispelling the anorak image of computer games.



Tactics



The Tomb Raider account was Herald’s first venture into the computer

games market. When appointed, the first version of the game had just

been released and Tomb Raider II was due on the market within ten

months, so Herald had limited time to build Lara’s reputation.



The team began by launching an intensive information assault on the

media.



It targeted individual publications by offering exclusive digital images

of Lara reading the latest issue of their title, and helped turn her

into a virtual reality star by sending out personalised letters and

Valentine’s cards.



Herald added interest value for specific audiences by getting relevant

celebrities to review the game. Meanwhile, Eidos selected a real-life

model in the form of Rhona Mitra to pose as Lara for fashion shoots.



The campaign was boosted by the recent launch of Sony Playstation. Its

smash-hit success meant the computer games industry was booming, and for

the first time was reaching into the mainstream through retail outlets

such as WH Smith and Woolworths. Tomb Raider used the most up-to-date

computer graphics, which gave it appeal as a technical novelty.



Lara’s success has inspired a host of imitations but Tomb Raider has

nonetheless achieved and maintained its market lead by effectively

appealing to a wide audience and promoting Lara as a personality in her

own right - the ideal woman in virtual reality for men and a cool 1990s

icon with qualities for women to aspire to.



Results



Lara Croft has been catapulted to worldwide fame, with appearances on

more than 80 magazine covers and a mass of editorial coverage. She was

the first digital image ever to appear on the front cover of The Face

magazine and Melody Maker, and she starred as a pin-up in Loaded. She

has been on the cover of the Sunday Telegraph magazine, and on national

radio and television.



Lara has been on tour with the pop band U2, and is about to hit

Hollywood as the star of a non-digital multi-million pound movie from

Paramount Pictures. The first two versions of the game have sold more

than six million copies, have won numerous awards, and the third version

is due out later this year.



Verdict



The success of Lara Croft can be credited to a highly effective mix of

design, marketing and PR, and an element of good timing.



Mark Sutherland , editor of Melody Maker, says, ’In our interviews with

pop stars we were finding such enthusiasm for the game. Lara had become

a virtual reality rock and roll icon. She’s cool, she fits in with the

image of the moment, and having our own digital image of Lara reading

Melody Maker certainly helped her get onto the front cover.’



Client: Eidos Interactive

PR Team: Herald Communications

Campaign: Tomb Raider/Lara Croft

Timescale: January 1997 - ongoing

Budget: Undisclosed



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