CHECKS FROM HELL by Wieden + Kennedy Portland for Electronic Arts

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CHECKS FROM HELL

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Industry Video Games/Consoles
Media Direct marketing
Market United States
Agency Wieden + Kennedy Portland
Art Director Dominic Orlando
Copywriter Charlie Gschwend
Creative Adam Heathcott
Designer Karen Koch, Katie Mchugh, Erik Blad
Account Supervisor Becca Milby
Strategic Planner Matt Kelley
Released September 2009

Credits & Description

Category: Travel, Entertainment & Leisure
Advertiser: ELECTRONIC ARTS
Product/Service: DANTE'S INFERNO VIDEO GAME
Agency: WIEDEN+KENNEDY
Date of First Appearance: Sep 9 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)
Art Director: Dominic Orlando (Wieden+Kennedy)
Copywriter: Charlie Gschwend (Wieden+Kennedy)
Creative: Adam Heathcott (Wieden+Kennedy)
Studio Manager: Maya Roberts (Wieden+Kennedy)
Designer: Karen Koch (Wieden+Kennedy)
Designer: Katie McHugh (Wieden+Kennedy)
Designer: Erik Blad (Wieden+Kennedy)
Account Director: Paulo Ribeiro (Wieden+Kennedy)
Account Supervisor: Becca Milby (Wieden+Kennedy)
Account Executive: Philip Kirsch (Wieden+Kennedy)
Strategic Planner: Matt Kelley (Wieden+Kennedy)
Interactive Planner: Jason Tarantino (Wieden+Kennedy)
Business Affairs: Stephen Duncan (Wieden+Kennedy)
Media placement: Direct Mailing (Initial Box) - Distributed To Key Gaming Bloggers - 9 September, 2009
Media placement: Direct Mailing (Follow Up Hoarder ) - Distributed To Key Gaming Bloggers - 24 September, 2009
Media placement: Direct Mailing (Follow Up Waster) - Distributed To Key Gaming Bloggers - 24 September, 2009
Media placement: Direct Mailing (Follow Up Righteous) - Distributed To Key Gaming Bloggers - 24 September, 2009

Describe the brief/objective of the direct campaign.
Dante’s Inferno is a video game based on the epic poem. Players, assuming the role of Dante, must descend through the nine Circles of Hell, each circle representing a different sin, to rescue Dante’s beloved Beatrice. With a highly wired, cynical customer base, we wanted to engage core gamers early, getting on their radars long before the game’s launch, as they are responsible for the bulk of sales and word of mouth. One by one, we were to take each sin and use it to showcase the corresponding level of the game while creating buzz and excitement for the game’s February launch.

Explain why the creative execution was relevant to the product or service.
Rather than metaphorically represent greed, the 'Checks from Hell' execution was designed to force recipients to choose between being a hoarder or a waster. By creating something that encouraged succumbing to one’s greed, gamers got a glimpse of the hellish terrain they would battle through and the evil denizens they would experience when the game launched. Additionally, by using the sin to bring hell–and the game–to life, 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 the execution.

Describe the creative solution to the brief/objective with reference to the projected response rates and desired outcome.
In the game, greed is a two-sided beast. One side is the hoarder; the other, the waster. To reflect this duality, we sent the gaming press boxes containing $200 checks, forcing them to make a choice: cash it and be a hoarder, or keep it and be a waster. Depending on their choice, they received a follow-up box damning them for their sin. Regardless of their decision, they were trapped, forced into succumbing to greed. Because of the provocative nature of the execution, we anticipated that recipients would share their experience online, extending the execution and conversation to a 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.
Caught in a conundrum, gaming press quickly acknowledged the moralistic dilemma was perfectly fitting to the underworld of Dante’s Inferno. Some bloggers, in an effort to skirt our challenge, donated the check or burned it altogether. Articles and response videos, including a two-minute montage of a spending binge, popped up on leading gaming websites from bloggers who received the boxes. An article on Yahoo! Games spurred public debate about EA’s attempt to bribe journalists. Generating more than 28 million impressions, with 1,500+ user comments, the greed execution provided the largest increase in “search” for Dante’s Inferno in four months.