The market for new PlayStation games is flooded with dozens of new
releases each month. With the proliferation of PlayStation magazines,
getting coverage of a launch isn’t an issue. However, if the publisher
doesn’t want its Official PlayStation Magazine game rating to make or
break its new game, other PR activity must be undertaken. When
Activision decided to release the new PlayStation game Tony Hawk’s
Skateboarding in the UK, it lacked the huge marketing budget that more
mainstream games receive. Third Planet International handled the
Maximise awareness and endorsement of Tony Hawk’s Skateboarding in the
UK skateboard community. Develop the campaign to appeal to a wider
Strategy and Plan
The initial strategy was to create word of mouth about Tony Hawk’s
Skateboarding among the UK skate community. Key influencers were
identified, and a series of product demonstrations were held for
Four months prior to the launch, a preview party was held. Invites went
went via tagged skateboard wheels and almost all of those who were
invited came along. The media relations side of the campaign then kicked
in, with the four UK skateboard titles - Sidewalk Surfer, Document,
Lodown and Big Cheese, with a combined circulation of 100,000 -
receiving exclusive information about the product’s development. The
idea was to create an ’army of ambassadors’ among skaters. Over 150
skate shops were also targeted, with a mailout.
The next strategy was the sponsorship of two freesports events over the
summer. At the Radlands World Cup Skateboarding Championships in
Northampton, 500 demo discs were distributed, and low-level branding was
used to announce the launch date.
The Sprite Urban Games, held in London, was used to take Tony Hawk’s
Skateboarding to a wider, non-skateboarding audience. Sixteen ’pods’,
all playing Tony Hawk’s Skateboarding attracted huge interest from the
public and media. Throughout the three-day festival, attended by 15,000
people, over 1,000 demo discs and branded T-shirts were distributed.
Finally, Third Planet used its Endorse database of lifestyle influencers
to mail a further 1,000 demo discs to journalists, club promoters, and
musicians. Clubs with PlayStation lounges received copies of the game,
and TV and radio producers and presenters were targeted, in the hope of
gaining impromptu on-air mentions.
Measurement and Evaluation
Starting from the ground up, this campaign had excellent results with
the various audiences it targeted. For example, the mailout to skate
shops had an enthusiastic response, with many installing PlayStations
and running in-store competitions.
It has also received a good deal of coverage, in the national and
regional media, as well as the niche magazines targeted, and 20 radio
and television slots. The Daily Telegraph reviewed the game, calling it
’an essential purchase for all PlayStation owners’.
When the game was released on 1 October, it went straight into the
PlayStation charts at number two - beaten only by Star Wars, the Phantom
Menace. Four weeks later, it was still in the top five selling games in
Gaining endorsement for Tony Hawk’s Skateboarding seems to have been the
key in getting this game a lot of coverage, from June - before the game
was launched - and ongoing, up to the Christmas period.
This is no mean feat, as skateboarding lacks the profile it has in the
US, and is considered something of an alternative sport, but the strong
sales suggest Tony Hawk’s Skateboarding has reached a wider market.
PR team: Third Planet International
Campaign: launch of Tony Hawk’s Skateboarding
Timescale: June to Dec 1999
Budget: part of pounds 150,000 marketing spend