PR Play of the Week: Sega seizes day amid Sony delay

Sony's supply shortfall for the PlayStation 2 the day before launch was heralded as a brilliant PR play guaranteed to jack up demand (PRWeek, October 9). However, rival Sega's PR team sniffed out an opportunity to steal the thunder for its Dreamcast console.

Sony's supply shortfall for the PlayStation 2 the day before launch was heralded as a brilliant PR play guaranteed to jack up demand (PRWeek, October 9). However, rival Sega's PR team sniffed out an opportunity to steal the thunder for its Dreamcast console.

Sony's supply shortfall for the PlayStation 2 the day before launch was heralded as a brilliant PR play guaranteed to jack up demand (PRWeek, October 9). However, rival Sega's PR team sniffed out an opportunity to steal the thunder for its Dreamcast console.

News of Dreamcast's rising sales received nearly as much coverage as Sony's shortfall. The Wall Street Journal screamed: 'Sega Dreamcast Stands to Benefit from Sony's PlayStation Shortage,' and CNET News.com led with 'Dreamcast sales climb on eve of troubled PlayStation 2 launch.'

According to Access Communications VP Jennifer Walker, the Sega account team had already planned to piggyback PlayStation's debut. 'We knew this would be a milestone so took the approach: 'Hey, we know you are writing a story on this - here's another perspective,'' she explained.

However, Walker's team was catapulted into faster action than anticipated when it received word from a media contact at 2pm, September 27 that Sony would announce that only half the planned number of PlayStation 2 units could be shipped. Two hours later, Sony's announcement hit the wires; by 4:30, Access had Sega president Peter Moore on the phone with the top-tier business media, including Reuters, Associated Press, Bloomberg and the San Jose Mercury News.

Moore emphasized that Dreamcast was already at retail, had been building inventory to meet holiday demand and units were selling at about half the price of PlayStation 2.

'We are the underdogs, the third-place player, which means we always have to be creative and on our toes like this,' Walker shrugged.



Nominations for PR Play of the Week should be sent to news@prweek.com.



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