H&K tactics spark huge sales for football game

Sports Interactive, the developer of PC game Championship Manager, left publisher Eidos last year to team up with Sega – a major Eidos rival – for a new game, Football Manager.

Campaign The launch of Football Manager
Client Sega
PR team Hill & Knowlton
Timescale June-November 2004
Budget Undisclosed

Sega's football manager simulation lets users run any club from around the world, with features even including the virtual players' diet regime.

As Eidos retained the rights to the name Championship Manager and continued to publish the series, Sports Interactive was keen to announce the launch of Football Manager and differentiate the game from its previous offering.

Objectives
To communicate that the new Sega game was devised by the people behind Championship Manager and, by implication, that Football Manager was a superior product to Eidos's offering.

Strategy and Plan
Although Sega's in-house PR team was in charge of dealing with the PC press for consoles and computers, it drafted in Hill & Knowlton to get consumer and lifestyle press, TV and radio interested in the game.

H&K developed a cross-divisional team, with consumer, technology and sports marketing account handlers working together to brainstorm ideas on how best to promote Football Manager to the target audience.

Reviews of the game were sent to computer magazines, while the focus for the consumer sector was on sports pages and general lifestyle media, as well as the reviews pages of national newspapers. H&K also hired football players and celebrities to talk about playing the game.

For lads' magazines Nuts and Zoo, the agency brokered the support of page-three model Leilani Dowding. A photoshoot at Fulham Football Club's ground showed Dowding dressed in an archetypal football manager's jacket.

Measurement and Evaluation
The campaign achieved more than 110 items of coverage, with an estimated reach of 63 million people. The Daily Mirror, The Sun, Loaded, Zoo and Shoot Monthly all covered the Dowding promotion.
Stories about the game appeared on The Guardian's website and football fan portal fansfc.com. The game was also discussed on TalkSport Radio.

Results
Football Manager peaked at number one in the PC charts, selling three times more copies than the average PC title. It was Sega's fastest-selling PC game ever, which comfortably exceeded expectations. H&K says it delivered a return on investment of almost 12-1. The agency no longer works with Sega but claims the project has opened doors with other games firms

TalkSport Radio contributor Jonathan Beales says that because football is the national sport, the PC game was always going to raise interest.

'Championship Manager was popular with our listeners, and any decent sports game that comes out will always be covered to keep the listeners up to date. But Sega also got behind the station and advertised on it.'

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