Consumer: Lara Croft shrugs off her young critics

Following a critical mauling of 2003 movie Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life (starring Angelina Jolie) and the follow-up videogame, Angel of Darkness, the Lara Croft brand needed a turnaround of fortunes.

Campaign Lara Croft Tomb Raider: Legend
Client Eidos
PR team Taylor Herring Brand Communications
Timescale November 2005-April 2006
Budget £30,000

UK games publisher Eidos – owner of the intellectual property rights to Lara Croft – brought in Taylor Herring Brand Communications at the end of last year to prepare the April launch of the latest videogame in the series, Lara Croft Tomb Raider: Legend.

To create significant coverage across mainstream consumer media and re-establish the credibility of the Lara Croft brand. To position Tomb Raider: Legend as a potential number one hit and the ‘must have’ game for 2006.

Strategy and Plan
In order to position the Lara Croft character as a celebrity and persuade specialist videogame press to communicate the quality of the game to core gaming fans, Taylor Herring developed a three-stage campaign. The intention was to draw upon the brand’s cultural heritage and assets.

The initial phase focused on generating interest around the Valentine‘s Day unveiling of the new face of Lara Croft – 20-year-old, relatively unknown model Karima Adebibe. This involved securing a series of exclusive articles based around Adebibe’s rags-to-riches story, covering her rise from Topshop sales assistant to ‘cyber heroine’.

Meanwhile, Lara Croft had been shortlisted as a ‘design icon’ on BBC2’s The Culture Show – the agency thus set about securing public votes for her by urging games magazines to back her in the poll.

The second stage of the campaign focused on feature generation, and included a partnership with the British Army to create an SAS-style mock training day for Adebibe and journalists.

Finally, to focus on the game itself, the PR team lobbied Guinness World Records to recognise Lara Croft as the ‘most successful computer games heroine ever’ – and it did. The agency timed the announcement of the ‘record’ for launch day, 7 April.

Measurement and Evaluation
Coverage included two double-page spreads and a full-page review in The Sun, two full pages in Daily Star Sunday, a six-page feature in FHM, five pages in Zoo and a page in Nuts.

Other interest came from London’s Metro and Evening Standard, and all the major UK regional newspapers. Features appeared in The Sunday Telegraph and The Sunday Times Magazine. Broadcast coverage included BBC News 24, Radio Five Live, London Tonight and MTV.

Tomb Raider: Legend was number one in the UK videogame chart for three weeks, and to date is the fastest-selling game of 2006. Taylor Herring has been asked to advise Eidos on future Tomb Raider brand releases.

In The Culture Show’s Great British Design Quest, Lara Croft was eventually placed eighth.

The Sunday Telegraph reporter Elizabeth Day, who attended the SAS-style ‘training day’, says: ‘I was fascinated by how seriously the PR was taken, in terms of archaeology and handgun lessons for Adebibe – who was lovely, and really good with all the photographers.’

Second Opinion:
Keef Sloan, director of digital agency Way to Blue, launched PlayStation videogame Lone Soldier.

I liked what Taylor Herring did with this campaign.

OK, so it was never going to be rocket science getting a good-looking model dressed as Lara Croft into The Sun, but they did it well and the spread of coverage was wide enough to ensure the campaign peaked during the release of
the product.

Getting the Army involved also helped to generate journalist interest.

Lara Croft and Tomb Raider is an ageing franchise so the press releases could well have fallen on deaf ears without the necessary hooks. I also liked the rags-to-riches story as it added depth to what could otherwise have been a simple pictorial piece.

The staggered approach is something I’d like to see adopted by more consultancies. It presents the ideas to the client in a very understandable way, and allows the agency to define a manageable ‘road map’ of activity.

I would have liked to have seen what they could have done from a business angle, especially as Eidos has recently been purchased by software group SCi. Lycra-clad models don’t tend to translate into effective B2B PR activity, so this would have presented a much greater challenge.

It would also have been interesting to see whether Taylor Herring had made Lara appeal to a female audience. A PR angle around strong female role models would have rounded this campaign off nicely.

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