Electronic Arts DM HIGHWAY TO HELL by Wieden + Kennedy Portland

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Industry Video Games/Consoles
Media Direct marketing
Market United States
Agency Wieden + Kennedy Portland
Creative Adam Heathcott
Photographer Aaron Lee
Account Supervisor Becca Milby
Released September 2009

Credits & Description

Category: Best Integrated Campaign Led by Direct Marketing
Date of First Appearance: Sep 14 2009 12:00AM
Entrant Company: WIEDEN+KENNEDY, Portland, USA
Executive Creative Directors: Mark Fitzloff/Susan Hoffman (Wieden+Kennedy)
Creative Directors: Eric Baldwin/Jason Bagley (Wieden+Kennedy)
Copywriters: Charlie Gschwend/Dan Kroeger (Wieden+Kennedy)
Art Directors: Dominic Orlando/James Moslander (Wieden+Kennedy)
Creative: Adam Heathcott (Wieden+Kennedy)
Broadcast Producer: Endy Hedman/Monica Ranes (Wieden+Kennedy)
Digital Producer: Carl Whitehouse/Ryan Bolls (Wieden+Kennedy)
Developers: Ryan Bowers/Guillaume Matheiu/Joshua Perez (Wieden+Kennedy)
Flash Developer: Laurie Brown (Wieden+Kennedy)
Designers: Karen Koch/Katie McHugh/Curtis Pachunka/Mark Lundgren/Mike Weihs (Wieden+Kennedy)
Designers: Erik Blad/Cathy Ormerod/Greg Radich/Peter Yue (Wieden+Kennedy)
Photographer: Aaron Lee (Wieden+Kennedy)
Studio Managers: Maya Roberts/Alicia Kuna (Wieden+Kennedy)
Digital Designers: Mirtho Prepont/Jason Strand (Wieden+Kennedy)
Sound Engineer: David Neevel (Wieden+Kennedy)
Account Director: Paulo Ribeiro (Wieden+Kennedy)
Account Supervisor: Becca Milby (Wieden+Kennedy)
Account Executive: Philip Kirsch (Wieden+Kennedy)
Strategic/Interactive Planners: Matt Kelley/Jason Tarantino (Wieden+Kennedy)
Business Affairs: Stephen Duncan (Wieden+Kennedy)
Media placement: Surface Level: Community Day at EA - Event/Promotional Materials - 14 May 2009
Media placement: Limbo: The E3 Protest - Event/Promotional Materials/Website/Webfilm - 3 June 2009
Media placement: Greed: Checks From Hell - Direct Mail - 9 September 2009
Media placement: Anger: Rickroll In A Box - Direct Mail - 26 October 2009
Media placement: Heresy: Mass: We Pray - Website/Webfilm - 17 November 2009
Media placement: Violence: The Human Xmas Tree - Website/Webfilm/Direct Mail - 19 December 2009
Media placement: Fraud: Leaked Internal Documents and More - Email Distribution/Website/Webfilm - 20 January 2010
Media placement: Treachery: Hawkpanther - Website/Webfilm/Informercial On WWE Monday Night Raw) - 19 February 2010

Describe the brief/objective of the direct campaign.
We were tasked with creating awareness and buzz for the launch of Dante’s Inferno, an action/adventure video game based on the epic poem. It’s difficult for new games to stand out, with a highly wired, cynical customer base skeptical of new titles. We wanted to engage core gamers, getting on their radars long before the game’s launch, as they are responsible for the bulk of sales and word of mouth. Using the poem’s nine Circles of Hell (each signifying a different sin) we created provocative, impactful executions engaging core gamers in conversations about the game on the web and beyond.

Explain why the creative execution was relevant to the product or service.
Rather than metaphorically represent each sin, each 'Highway to Hell' execution was designed to physically elicit the actions and emotions associated with that particular sin, as it existed in the game, bringing hell and the game to life. By participating in each sin, gamers got a feel for the hellish terrain they would battle through and the evil denizens they would experience when the game launched. Additionally, by using hell as our focus, we were able to stand out in the action/ adventure genre, where the hero’s story is typically the focus. Our strategy was as unique as each execution.

Describe the creative solution to the brief/objective with reference to the projected response rates and desired outcome.
Consistent with the mature tone of the game and the mythology of the poem, we created nine different executions, each using sin as an invitation to experience the corresponding level of Hell. Designed to provoke conversation, the 'Highway to Hell,' as we called it, lured, tricked and in some cases forced gamers to succumb to each sin, automatically forcing a response. Because of the provocative nature of the executions, we anticipated that responses would be shared through articles, tweets, repostings, social networking, response videos and other original content, which extended the execution and spurred conversation among a much larger audience.

Describe the results in as much detail as possible with particular reference to the RESPONSE of the target audience including deliverability statistics, response rates, click throughs, sales cost per response, relationships built and overall return on investment.
Using merely 1.5% of the overall campaign budget, we generated more than 300MM unpaid media impressions and hundreds of articles from gaming and mainstream publications in response to & 'Highway to Hell.' That level of awareness and engagement translated into more than 100,000 game pre-orders and over 4MM demo downloads, surpassing expectations by 3MM, all prior to our mass-media launch campaign. Post-launch, the game’s February 2010 release saw game sales exceed expectations. Perhaps more importantly, the ingenuity and risk involved in the nine-month ramp-up campaign helped EA regain street cred among jaded gamers growing weary of EA’s predictable corporate presence.