The hype surrounding Sega’s newest amusement centre made extravagant
promises that may prove difficult to live up to, says Jackie Elliot,
chief executive of Manning Selvage and Lee
I’ve viewed the arrival of Segaworld from two entirely different
In the office, we felt that its virtual reality solitary play promise
contrasted poorly with the family values of more traditional theme
parks- interact with yourself as opposed to with your family, I suppose.
At home, however, my 14-year-old (brought up on Nintendo but prepared to
switch) having established that the existing Virtual World would remain
- but regretting the departure of Quasar and Alien Wars- sat back and
waited for the Trocadero to deliver the Sonic goods.
We haven’t been there - Judge and Jury demands a verdict on the PR
achievements of the launch not on the site itself. I noticed the Daily
Telegraph’s ticket promo - tch, tch - why should there be a need for
discounts and giveaways for something supposedly so new and exciting?
And the hedgehog everywhere - an 1980s mascot which kept reminding me of
the troubles both the games giants are having as PCs and Playstations
become the 1990s must-haves.
They did a good job with the publicity, though, achieving very good
press. I caught some television and I expect kids’ media had much more.
But I was left feeling like it was all a giant arcade - that you might
have more fun just riding the escalator.
Close examination of the press reveals a weary welcome and some
scepticism. It will be a success - its position and its promise will
outweigh its reality. But could its public relations strategy have
delivered a more generous endorsement? If you make claims to be the
‘most sensational new tourist attraction in the world’ - as this client
did, presumably on advice, you are asking for a sock in the jaw from the
press. You can remain unbruised if your virtual matches your reality. In
this case, it seems it did not.
It’s big, it’s fun, it’s a different version of what you can do at home
or in arcades, but its over-promise has disappointed. I’d put that down
to the sort of PR approach that lives on ink but quite forgets that
publicity is supposed to make a difference, to have some meaning other
than just appearing as a page in a clip book.
The half term test looms - will I be queuing? Not on current demand -
nothing has happened to shake the Mario Brothers from prime position in
the Elliot household.