CALL OF DUTY: 2012 LAUNCH by Activision, Frank Pr for Blizzard Entertainment

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CALL OF DUTY: 2012 LAUNCH

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Industry Video Games/Consoles, Games
Media Promo & PR, Case study
Market United Kingdom
Agency Activision
Agency Frank Pr
Producer Alex Jacobs
Released July 2011

Credits & Description

Category: Best Launch or Re-launch
Advertiser: ACTIVISION
Product/Service: MODERN WARFARE 3
Agency: ACTIVISION
Agency: FRANK PR
European Pr Director: Craig O Boyle (Activision)
European Senior Pr Manager: Sophie Orlando (Activision)
Managing Director: Andrew Bloch (Frank PR)
Senior Account Director: Polly Atherton (Frank PR)
Head Of Prexperiential: Damon Statt (Frank PR)
Account Director: Rami Mallis (Frank PR)
European Digital Manager: Shane Bellamy (Activision)
European Pr Manager: Simon Dawes (Activision)
Account Director: Sophie Raine (Frank PR)
Client Partner: Mark Scott (Five By Five)
Producer: Alex Jacobs (Five By Five)
Community Manager: Sam Hilary (Five By Five)
Community Manager: Hannah Mahony (Five By Five)
Call Of Duty Marketing Director: Daniel Green (Activision)
Call Of Duty Marketing Director: Ruben Dehouck (Activision)
Vice President European Marketing Shared Services: Ian Mcgregor (Activision)
Event Director: Neesh Doobay (NJ Live)
Event Director: Monica Paralolista (NJ Live)
Media placement: Pre-event comms - Daily Star, La Figaro, Bild.de - 31/10/11
Media placement: Radio promotion - Kiss Radio - 1/11/11
Media placement: Celebrity Interviews - Sun, Mail online, Guardian - 3/11/11
Media placement: Digital PR - Inside Xbox, You Tube - 5/11/11
Media placement: Event - BBC, TF1, RTL, La Monde, The Sun - 7/11/11

Summary of the Campaign

Business insights:
- Decay curve for video games is shortening
- Video games subject to significant price reductions a month after release
- Therefore significance and strength of Week 1 sales is pivotal to overall success of release
- Studies show the most influential way of discovering the game is via word-of-mouth
Business Objective:
- Make Call of Duty®: Modern Warfare® 3 (MW3) the biggest entertainment launch ever
- Surpass Black Ops 5-day sales record of $650m

Campaign Objectives:
- Amplify launch window to make the most talked-about entertainment property

Challenge:
- Maintain record-breaking growth in increasingly price-sensitive, competitive and retracting market suffering brand fatigue
- Combat strongest direct competition to date
- Create universal platform which speaks directly to geographically dispersed audience

Strategy:
- Own the MW3 launch window (wk1), ensuring the property is unavoidable on all levels, through increasing brand visibility and galvanising mass awareness with the creation of multiple touch points for an EU audience, ultimately giving the launch ‘cultural moment’ significance

Campaign Synopsis:
- Created Europe-wide MW3 hysteria prior to an explosive launch night, igniting mass awareness and driving wk1 sales
- Undertook extensive media assault pre-launch including in-depth press briefings, celebrity engagement and tease reveals
- Delivered centralised focal point launch event in London, which was scalable to be replicated on territory level, amplified and accessed by EU mainstream audience
- Coordinated supporting launch events across Europe, echoing core statement made by the London event all enhanced by social media and media buys to maximise the reach

The Situation
Activision is the world’s largest videogame publisher and the CoD franchise represents its most successful property.

With fierce competition, MW3 needed to maintain its category leader position. The requirement to leverage wk1, maximising sales, was made explicitly clear by business intelligence. In addition, the mainstream audience was cited as a key expansion area, enabling the brand to maintain its growth trajectory.

Research highlighted our target audience was most influenced by word-of-mouth, therefore PR was required to position the launch as a ‘cultural moment’ and ‘the entertainment product of 2011’, not only to generate awareness but talkability amongst a pan-EU audience.

The Goal
Own the MW3 launch window: Dominate all media channels for wk1

Increase brand visibility and galvanise mass awareness: Leverage high visibility events, securing widespread consumer coverage focusing on broadcast and social media amplification

Multiple touch points for EU audience: Deliver launch event to be mirrored to a scalable degree across EU, incorporating outputs to engage with mainstream audience (i.e. celeb attendance, widespread media exposure, live feed of event through YouTube)

Create a ‘cultural moment’: Intrinsically link 7 launch events projecting a unified and utterly unavoidable statement across Europe

Smash previous records and make MW3 the biggest entertainment launch ever.

The Strategy
Create an all encompassing, ubiquitous launch week experience that can be realised across EU staying true to brand positioning. Establish synergy and brand stature, which transcends geographical boundaries delivering a unified cultural moment in time.

1. Owning the MW3 launch window:
- Strategic homepage takeovers on day of launch
- Early code shared with media enabling Day 1 review coverage
- Celeb preview activity
- PR amplification of all outputs from events
- Support wk1 through bold media spend activity to achieve dominance and mass awareness

2. Increasing brand visibility and galvanise mass awareness:
- Extensive pre-promotion of launch events
- Focus on VIP attendance at events generating mainstream coverage

3. Delivering multiple touch points for audience:
- Livestream access across the globe via YouTube, delivering meaningful output which enables in-home engagement with the spectacles
- Ticketed event access via competitions
- Ability to follow action through social media channels

Execution
Lead by PR
• PR campaign deployed pre, during and post activity maximising central and local launch events
• CoD-themed hub event hosted 1,200 franchise ‘obsessives’ (media, celebrity, industry influencers)

• Event included:
- ‘Green carpet’ media interviews
- Experiential representation of MW3
- Pan-EU consumer and celebrity gameplay tournaments
- AAA music performances
- Live link-up between UK, French, German events
• Simultaneous events held across EU, reflecting themes and styling of the hub, ensuring synergy
• Consumer attendance secured via ticket giveaways and media partnerships
• Celebrity guestlist secured cut-through in entertainment media and generated Twitter buzz
• Celebrities (inc: Ashley Cole, for example) given early access to game in return for publicity (Tweets, event attendance, interviews)
• Supported retail midnight openings

Digital support
• Broadcast event through Livstream on YouTube
• Bespoke Facebook tab and MW3 launch YouTube page
• Fans invited to join online conversation through Livestream

Documented Results
- Grossing $1bn in 16 days (eclipsing 'Avatar' record), MW3 officially became the biggest entertainment launch ever
- Set 1&5 day sell-through records, grossing over $400m & $775m
- Surpassed Black Ops sales in Europe by 11%
- Became no.1 ‘most talked about’ commercial topic on Facebook in 2011
- 1,700+ EU media attended events, aiding the brand to dominate the news agenda for 2 days either side of launch
- Campaign resulted in 132m+ online video views (+32% vs. 2010)
- 90K hours of footage (30K, 2010) watched by ‘in-home’ audience of 370,000+ unique viewers (102,000, 2010) - a 300% increase
- YouTube stream achieved over 2.2m streams equalling 5,210,753 viewer minutes across 161 countries representing 193% increase from 2010
- 25,000 YouTube comments
- 102 launch day homepage takeovers resulting in:
- 166m+ impressions
- 621,238 clicks delivered
- 17m+ video plays