Technology: Hill & Knowlton to prime THQ for game launches

One of the best known video game developers worldwide has brought in Hill & Knowlton as it prepares for several high-profile launches.

Wall-E: predicted to be summer blockbuster
Wall-E: predicted to be summer blockbuster

California-based THQ has handed Hill & Knowlton's London consumer team a 12-month retainer after a competitive pitch.

The agency will handle media relations in the UK consumer press, with the in-house team at THQ continuing to deal with trade titles. Incumbent agency Trilogy did not repitch.

H&K will promote the hotly anticipated third-person action game Saints Row 2, due to be released in October. This follows the success of 2006's Saints Row, a Grand Theft Auto-style urban crime game.

The brief also includes a major product push for an upcoming Disney/Pixar spin-off. The H&K team will create interest in the consumer media around the launch of the Wall-E game, a companion to Disney/Pixar's computer-animated film about robots in space. Both the Wall-E game and the film are due out this summer and are expected to be huge hits.

THQ's UK marketing director John Webb said H&K would be expected to achieve coverage in a 'crowded and highly competitive' video game market.

'2008 is a big year for THQ and we wanted to ensure we had an agency in place that could handle numerous product launches across the portfolio,' said Webb.

THQ has reported difficulty in competing with Nintendo in the children's games market, citing the gaming giant as one reason for a slow fourth quarter.

In a May earnings call with investors, THQ CEO Brian Farrell said Nintendo's success was part of the reason the company's 'traditionally strong kids' business did not meet expectations'.

'It was the most crowded market for video games for kids in recent memory,' said Farrell of 2008.

He added that the Wall-E launch was expected to help THQ's performance in the year ahead.

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