The original Guitar Hero was one of PlayStation 2's most popular video games, transcending ages, sexes, and musical abilities with its instantly recognizable rock riffs and user-friendly controls.
For Guitar Hero II, (GHII) however, RedOctane expanded the game's music-track list and added new levels and features. In short, it was even more accessible than its first-generation sibling, and RedOctane needed to spread the word about the upgraded GHII.
The primary goal was to communicate the advancements in GHII - and generate a significant spike in sales, says Dean Bender, partner at Bender/Helper Impact (BHI). Much of the effort, he says, depended on traditional (and ubiquitous) media relations: outreach to alt weeklies, entertainment trade publications, music magazines, men's/lifestyle books, national newspapers, and broadcast outlets. The client also wanted to introduce GHII to key influencers and allow consumers to experience it firsthand.
The campaign kicked off at Best Buy in West LA, where guitarist Dave Navarro cracked open the first copy and played songs for the audience. GHII kiosks at music festivals, including South by Southwest and Coachella, allowed attendees to experience the game. On an interactive Web site, consumers could discuss the game's evolution and download new content. BHI also gave copies of GHII to musicians to play on tour buses and even review for publication.
The BHI team generated more than 2,000 stories across all targeted media. And in December alone, RedOctane sold more than 800,000 units in the US, making it the month's top seller among non-shooter video games. GHII also has been a documented hit with influential guitarists, including Gene Simmons.
"[BHI] just signed on for another year with the client," Bender says.
PR team: RedOctane/Activision (Sunnyvale, CA) and Bender/Helper Impact (Los Angeles)
Campaign: Launch of Guitar Hero II for the PlayStation 2
Duration: September 2006 to March 2007
Budget: Approximately $300,000