Global newsmaker: Nick Grange

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare was arguably the most successful launch in the history of entertainment, grossing higher sales figures than any other film or entertainment product in its first week. Activision European PR director, Nick Grange, talks to PRWeek about the challenges faced when trying to live up to last year's launch, with the recent unveiling of its sister title: Call of Duty: Black Ops.

Nick Grange
Nick Grange

Black Ops has been a massive release for Activision, what was the overall PR strategy for the global release?

The campaign we ran for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 in 2009 was a huge success, so our overall European PR strategy for Black Ops was to stick to the tried and tested formula, whilst taking what we’d learnt from last year and really sharpening things up.

Following on directly from the most successful launch in the history of entertainment left us with a pretty tough bar to raise, but by tightening up the communications between PR, marketing, and digital, we were able to execute a consistent & aligned campaign across Europe that’s met our needs this year and helped contribute to the overall campaign for Black Ops.

What are your challenges in running a global/international media campaigns?

Understanding the European territory differences in terms of both media and consumers is a huge challenge, especially when working in such a new and changing market. When you’re stepping outside of the realm of PR basics and devising a Pan-European strategy, it is important to find a formula which still gives everyone room to manoeuvre, enabling local markets to tailor the approach to their specific audience. Taking the time to create an international campaign that’s flexible enough to function and still strong enough to make a wide impact is the toughest challenge, but getting it right is hugely rewarding.

How has digital and social media changed the way you run campaigns? Can you give some examples?

In the gaming market especially, social media and digital are both integral to the future of gaming PR – many of our key purchasers and influencers have been the first to adopt and evangelise these new tools, so it’s vital that both are treated seriously as a key component in any major campaign. This year for Call of Duty: Black Ops, we used Facebook as a platform for a wide variety of content – most notably using Ustream to broadcast live content from the UK launch event directly to the community. Taking the opportunity to engage with consumers directly like this has certainly changed the way we execute the basics:  The launch party for Call of Duty: Black Ops was streamed live for 5 hours, and was attained phenomenal viewing figures, which is a great result.

What are your media must-haves, digital and print?

In print it’s always great to see something different – as the key market leader both for the genre and the medium overall; Call of Duty is often used as a point of reference for a variety of articles. With a wide range of lifestyle print media suddenly taking interest in videogames due to the success of games like the Call of Duty franchise, it’s exciting to see print media embracing the idea of working with us to create different content to what you’d usually see.  For digital, it’s all about making sure the formula works – with everyone in a hurry to embrace the new, it’s important to take a step back and work out where it fits into the grand scheme.

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