Campaigns: Product Launch - Inky beware: the Pac-Man cometh

It pays to look beyond the obvious when pitching a project to a client.

It pays to look beyond the obvious when pitching a project to a client.

It pays to look beyond the obvious when pitching a project to a


Manning, Selvage & Lee used that thinking to its advantage when it

successfully secured and executed the campaign for the launch of Pac-Man

World 20th Anniversary, a new version of the mega-hit arcade game of the

late 1970s and early 1980s.


Namco had never used a national PR firm before, but decided early on

that PR was going to be an integral part of its strategy for relaunching

one of the most successful video game franchises in history.

’Through research and focus groups, we identified two very distinct and

very different markets,’ says Namco Hometek marketing VP Mike


’One was people in their late 20s and up who had played the original

arcade game and would be driven by the nostalgia factor. The other was

the younger group who knew Pac-Man, but didn’t have that same feeling of


Namco Hometek, a subsidiary of Japan-based Namco, decided to focus its

TV advertising on the younger audience, while relying on PR to reach the

older demographic. But the company wanted more than just a product


’We interviewed a lot of PR agencies, but Manning was the only group to

not just pitch a gimmick,’ Fischer offers. ’A lot of agencies came to us

and said, ’We’ll throw a birthday party or we’ll do this.’ Manning came

to us and said, ’Look, there’s a story and the story is retro gaming.

The best example of this story is Pac-Man.’’

MS&L set out to craft a campaign that would trigger feelings of

nostalgia among editors and producers. ’Retro pop culture is such a

strong trend right now that we felt we could plug Pac-Man right into

that since he is the original video game star,’ explains MS&L senior VP

Brenda Lynch.


To generate excitement for Pac-Man, MS&L designed a brightly colored

press kit. The cover featured the 2-D image of the original character,

while inside was the 3D version of the new Pac-Man, which popped up when

the kit was opened. MS&L also conceived a 20-year timeline of Pac-Man’s

history that resembled the maze the character traveled through in the


To remind editors of what a cultural craze ’Pac-Man Fever’ had once

been, MS&L tracked down many of the licensed products from the early

1980s, including the Pac-Man Flip Phone and Pac-Man Chef-Boyardee, which

it used as visuals in a B-roll.


The PR campaign helped Namco sell more than 400,000 new Pac-Man games in

North America in the first 10 weeks after its mid-October launch.

MS&L was able to generate over 305 million consumer impressions, an

equivalent ad value of dollars 4.5 million. Included was coverage on MTV

News, CNN Digital Jam, Fox News Channel and CBS Radio Boot Camp. Print

coverage included stories in Time, GQ, Gear, Playboy, Penthouse, Jane,

Entertainment Weekly and Maxim, as well as daily newspapers such as the

Kansas City Star, San Diego Union Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times.

Following the launch, MS&L conducted an outreach program to holiday and

special section editors, promoting the game as the ideal holiday


This resulted in additional coverage, including CBS This Morning’s ’Toy

Test’ naming Pac-Man World 20th Anniversary one the hottest Sony

PlayStation games for the holiday season.

Future Having revived the Pac-Man franchise, Namco indicated that

additional products in the series are being planned.

Client: Namco Hometek (San Jose, CA)

PR Team: Manning, Selvage & Lee (Los Angeles)

Campaign: Pac-Man World 20th Anniversary

Time Frame: February to December 1999

Budget: N/A

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