Game Crazy taps 'gifter' market

Game Crazy, a video-game retailer, asked Cone to help reach parents (especially moms) and grandparents shopping for holiday gifts for kids.

PR team: Game Crazy (Wilsonville, OR) and Cone (Boston)
Campaign: Game Crazy Holiday Program
Duration: August-December 2007
Budget: $200,000

Game Crazy (GC), a video-game retailer, asked Cone to help reach parents (especially moms) and grandparents shopping for holiday gifts for kids. GC wanted to be seen as a valuable and trusted source and aimed to increase sales and market share.

"We hadn't penetrated the mom audience - the gifters," says Tanya Khamis, GC's director of marketing. "[Previously], moms weren't keen on kids playing games... We wanted to establish GC as a thought leader and show we... understand what it's like when a child opens the wrong gift."

"To educate and inform gifters, [we decided] to talk to kids," Khamis says. "Then we could help parents become heroes."

An online survey of 8 to 17 year olds would inform messaging and drive media relations with the help of two outside spokespeople. Because it was late for long-lead outlets, SMTs and an RMT were used to boost coverage. Khamis says neither GC nor its competitors had done SMTs, so it would also help differentiate GC.

"We needed to call attention to the disconnect between gifters and games that kids want," says Bill Fleishman, Cone's MD and EVP of brand marketing.

Across ages and genders, the survey found 80% of kids planned to ask for a video game, and 60% expected to be disappointed. It also revealed most-wanted games (five) and systems (Nintendo Wii, Sony PS3, and XBOX360). A "Parents Guide to Video Game Buying" brochure was created and available online and in stores.

Story angles included the problem of giving the wrong gift, tips, and ways that GC could help. National print, broadcast, online outlets, and local outlets in 30 priority markets were targeted.

"We were able to help demystify games," Fleishman says. "GC's business model is predicated on staff knowledge of each game - [so] we [could also] offer the ability to interact with customers and help parents buy something that's wanted."

Cat Schwartz, aka the "hi-tech mommy," and Leah Ingram, a gift-giving expert, were spokespeople. Schwartz did two SMTs and Ingram conducted an RMT. A MAT release article was also distributed.

Several sales records were shattered - compared to 2006, day after Thanksgiving sales increased 96% and sales for the entire Thanksgiving weekend were up 76%. Overall, 2007 sales increased 37% (exceeding a 25% goal). Stories totaled 274 (153.9 million impressions).

Additionally, Nintendo noticed the success, and "three days before Christmas Eve, Nintendo gave us more Wii's," Khamis says. "They were impressed with our efforts, and it helped us get those."

GC will continue working with Cone on future efforts.

GC is maintaining its relationship with gift-givers by focusing on pertinent issues during other seasons, such as promoting handheld units for summer travel.

PRWeek's View
The approach to reaching this previously untapped audience was great, and it's wonderful to see the big business boost on the first real attempt.

This effort proves the right strategy and execution can yield fantastic outcomes in a short time - even during the saturated holiday season.

Nintendo's response to this effort was certainly a win/win and should yield ongoing positive results for both companies. GC's commitment to continue developing the audience relationship is also an extremely smart move.

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