Sega kicks off a dollars 5m effort for new console

SAN FRANCISCO: Sega of America is spending dollars 5 million to hype the September launch of its Dreamcast gaming console, and has hired a new communications chief to lead the PR charge.

SAN FRANCISCO: Sega of America is spending dollars 5 million to hype the September launch of its Dreamcast gaming console, and has hired a new communications chief to lead the PR charge.

Charles Bellfield joins the company from NEC Electronics as director of corporate communications. His hiring comes at a critical juncture for the number-three ranked gaming company, which is hoping to regain its position at the top of the gaming heap from Sony. Several years in the making, Dreamcast is seen as the product that will either make or break Sega's future.

'PR is absolutely essential to the Dreamcast marketing campaign,' said Bellfield, who added that the console's launch budget is expected to reach dollars 100 million. Dreamcast's roll-out PR, which is being handled by the company in conjunction with San Francisco's Access Communications, encompasses everything from consumer events to grassroots promotions.

Bellfield's communications position is two-pronged. He is responsible for coordinating all third-party, technology and direct consumer communications, as well as PR and media relations for Dreamcast, which goes on sale September 9. Bellfield is also supervising the company's North American corporate communications.

The Dreamcast campaign has been executed in phases. From May 1998 to May 1999?'the tease phase'?Sega and Access focused on sneak previews to the press. Phase two, which kicked off at the Game Developers Conference in March and continued through the Electronic Entertainment Exposition (E3) in May, sought to demonstrate Dreamcast's technological capabilities and highlighted the push for the US market.

Phase three centered around E3, where the company hosted a glitzy bash at Los Angeles' Soho Club and demonstrated the range of games that will be available for the holiday season.

Until the September launch ('the pre-launch buildup phase') the focus will be on events,including some aimed at customers who have pre-ordered the machines or rented them via Hollywood Video. For these early adopters, Sega will be hosting VIP parties in five cities: Portland, LA, Chicago, New York, and San Francisco. In addition, Sega is a key sponsor of this fall's MTV Music Video Awards and is giving away tickets to the event in a sweepstakes contest.

Sega, however, will not be neglecting product-oriented media relations.

According to Bellfield, the media blitz will hit from all sides, with three teams pitching different angles to specific media categories.

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