Sensible Soccer woos 21st-century gamers

At the start of 2005, electronic-game maker Radica hired Chocolate Communications with a brief to work across a wide range of products. The agency's main project was to promote Radica's Arcade Legends line of early 1990s classic arcade games.

Campaign Sensible Soccer relaunch
Client Radica
PR team In-house and Chocolate Communications
Timescale January 2005-February 2006
Budget Less than £20,000

The products include Nintendo-style control pads that plug directly into the back of a TV, enabling users to play the games without a computer. Radica particularly wanted Chocolate to drive sales of its retro footie title, Sensible Soccer.

Objectives
To bring Sensible Soccer into the 21st century and create a ‘cult hype' around the plug 'n' play format. To create a standout campaign, targeting reviewers and using radio giveaways, but with no budget for extra activity.

Strategy and Plan
There were two target audiences: under-40 male parents who would remember the original game; and boys aged under 11 who were growing up with  modern, graphically superior games such as Pro Evolution Soccer.

For both, chocolate concentrated on the emotions and memories that Sensible Soccer aroused. All press
material had a strong nostalgic feel, and the game's timeless playability was stressed, as well as the fact that it was a credible contender to modern equivalents.

Initially the game's relaunch was announced in January 2005 with a ‘coming soon' press release. Momentum was maintained with details of a shipping date released in May - during E3, the world's largest gaming expo, in Los Angeles. This tactic ensured coverage before review samples of Sensible Soccer were even available.

The official launch came at the end of July and Chocolate embarked on a series of product roadshows, while the game's creator and veteran of the industry, Jon Hare, was made available for interviews. In December, a campaign was rolled out with gadget retailer Firebox.com to win Sensible Soccer T-shirts, fifty of which were also sent to journalists.

Measurement and Evaluation
Coverage included favourable and indepth features in The Guardian, The Sun and the Daily Mirror. Interest also came from Nuts, Zoo, Stuff, Ladsmag and Boys' Toys.

Elsewhere, specialist magazine coverage included Retro Gamer, Games Master, Official Nintendo Magazine, Edge, Computer Shopper and Computing. Websites Maxim Online and Zoo Online also ran articles.

Radio coverage spanned more than 80 national and local radio stations, including XFM, TalkSport, BBC Radio Five Live, Radio 2, Magic and Key103.

Results
All mentions of Sensible Soccer were positive, and the game achieved an impressive number of pre-orders.

Chocolate also used its contacts to get Sensible Soccer onto commercial radio stations, including TalkSport and XFM, that traditionally only accept products via sponsorship deals.

The UK's largest toy-trade magazine, Toy News Toy, covered the game's relaunch. Its editor, Ronnie Dungan, tells PRWeek: ‘Sensible Soccer holds a special place in the hearts of a generation of football videogame players: it was the first to capture the imagination in the 1990s.

‘I liked its appeal as a cult game you can plug into your TV, a concept very popular among younger players.'

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