CAMPAIGNS: Product Launch - Ms. Pac-Man finds an out in PR maze

Client: Namco Hometek (San Jose, CA)

Client: Namco Hometek (San Jose, CA)

Client: Namco Hometek (San Jose, CA)

PR Team: Manning Selvage & Lee (Los Angeles)

Campaign: Ms. Pac-Man Maze Madness

Time Frame: January - November 2000

Budget: Less than dollars 400,000



Twenty years after Pac-Man gobbled his way to the forefront of computer games, his mate, Ms. Pac-Man, has made a comeback. Namco Hometek, the legendary video game character's creator, has released Ms. Pac-Man Maze Madness, its first 3-D game for Sony PlayStation, Nintendo 64 and Sega Dreamcast.

Namco retained Manning Selvage & Lee to create a campaign leading up to the new game's release. The agency used a PR-based marketing approach to generate awareness, excitement and demand, and to help drive sales to 500,000 units by the end of February 2001.



Strategy

MS&L targeted kids aged 7 to 16 who enjoy character-based games, and Generation Xers - including parents and gift-giving relatives and friends - who played Pac-Man in their youth and thus were likely to respond to the new game's retro factor and multi-cultural influences.

By presenting Ms. Pac-Man as a pop-culture icon, and tapping into the popularity of 'girl power,' MS&L leveraged her as a 'liberated woman of the new millennium' and the number one female executive in the video game business. The agency also promoted the game's 3-D graphics and new environments.

MS&L faced some major challenges when planning the campaign: national media targeting women rarely cover video games; and October, the month the game was scheduled to hit shelves, was National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

So the firm set out to tie both the icon and the game more closely to women.



Tactics

The agency developed a partnership with the National Alliance of Breast Cancer Organizations (NABCO), and Ms. Pac-Man became the group's first celebrity spokesperson. A logo featuring Ms. Pac-Man and the pink ribbon for breast cancer awareness was created to show consumers the relationship between the character and the cause.

To strengthen this relationship, MS&L used a number of tactics. For example, visitors to NABCO's Web site can send women they know postcards with the logo as a reminder of the importance of getting regular breast exams.

Namco and NABCO conducted a press tour in New York in June during which spokespeople met with Child, Fitness, Women's Sports & Fitness, Self, Teen, Girl Power, Redbook, Harper's Bazaar and Seventeen. An in-flight PSA was shown on all Continental Airlines flights during October, and a VNR aired on more than 40 affiliate stations throughout the country.

Other tactics included dedicating space on Maze Madness packaging to the cause.



Results

A life-size Ms. Pac-Man appeared on the Today show and the Fox & Friends morning show in October, along with Namco marketing director Mike Fischer.

Two Bloomberg Radio programs also interviewed Fischer - one focusing on the breast cancer awareness partnership, the other on the video game.

The campaign garnered TV coverage in major markets such as Austin, TX, Detroit, Los Angeles, Miami and Portland, OR.

Publications covering the campaign so far are The Dallas Morning News, Tampa Tribune and USA Today, as well as consumer magazines such as Sports Illustrated For Kids.



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