PR team Way to Blue
Timescale April-June 2005
Budget Under £6,000
The PlayStation2 game was an important launch for Midway because
it was the developer's first foray into the alien shoot-'em-up genre.
To generate awareness of the game ahead of launch day and showcase its quality. To create hype around the alien theme among sci-fi enthusiasts and use competitions to achieve editorial coverage, while driving web surfers to Area-51's official site.
Strategy and Plan
Two weeks before launch, the PR team approached The Sun Online with an exclusive for readers to preview the game trailer in return for prominent promotion on the home page. This led to Area-51 being picked up by The Sun's Something For The Weekend section in the main paper.
A week before launch, the PR team distributed the trailer to entertainment, game and teenager-oriented websites. It also encouraged sites to feature competitions with Area-51 as the prize.
At launch, 30 editors were sent an Area-51 pack, presented as if it was a government document containing confidential information.
Meanwhile, online retailer www.game.net was granted exclusive in-game footage in return for feature coverage on the site and inclusion in its newsletter, which is sent to 260,000 subscribers.
All sites were targeted for their user base of under-35 males. Niche
sci-fi sites offered a particularly important audience – potential fans of alien-themed video games.
Measurement and Evaluation
The campaign led to coverage across mainstream sites, such as Tiscali and Guardian Unlimited, as well as niche websites such as Games Radar and the Cosmic Conspiracies section of darkstar1.co.uk.
One of the biggest challenges was securing coverage on Amazon.co.uk, which traditionally refuses game trailers. However, persistence paid off with the site agreeing to showcase the Area-51 teaser.
During the campaign period, more than 5.5 million unique users visited The Sun Online. Of the 28 websites that featured Area-51 content, 14 included a link to the game's official URL. In total, 30,000 surfers viewed the game trailer while an estimated five million people had the potential to view Area-51 content online.
Of the 30 editors targeted with media packs, ten mentioned the game in their website's editorial. Nine sites ran an Area-51 competition, resulting in 7,506 entries. Competitions also ran on sci-fi sites crowdedskies.com and Cosmic Conspiracies.
Tiscali editor Rob Andrews says: 'I'm always aiming to give readers an experience of the game I'm reviewing and I need footage that is a breeze to download. Way to Blue anticipated what I would need editorially and, crucially, backed this up with the material and technical know-how to make it happen.'