ECCENTRIC LOVE GAINS CITIZENSHIP by Opt for Konami

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ECCENTRIC LOVE GAINS CITIZENSHIP

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Industry Video Games/Consoles
Media Promo & PR, Case study
Market Japan
Agency Opt
Released September 2011

Credits & Description

Category: Technology and Manufacturing
Advertiser: KONAMI DIGITAL ENTERTAINMENT
Product/Service: LOVEPLUS
Project Manager: Makoto Tsuruta (Opt)
Sales Representative: Tomoya Ikugawa (Opt)
Planner: Yuga Kawashima (Opt)
PR Planner: Saya Suzuki (Opt)
Social Media Planner: Asako Tajima (Opt)
Media placement: Official website - The Wall Street Journal, CNN, NTV, SATV - 7 July 2010
Summary of the Campaign
In June of 2010, Konami launched "Loveplus+", a sequel to the simulation love game "Loveplus" for Nintendo DS. Because of its creepy nature, the game was strongly despised as being "for Otaku (geeks)" by men in their 20’s and 30’s who were the target. Our purpose was to transform the image from "a sick game for otaku" to a "love entertainment that all men can share", and to achieve the sales target of 120,000. We built a setting in Atami, which would make the visiting fans feel as if they were in a resort with their "girlfriends". The sight of more than 4,000 hardcore fans enjoying the eccentric "date" at first surprised the tourists and locals. The enjoyment of this surprise though, spread smiles throughout Atami and sent out a message which implied "maybe it’s OK to have a relationship like this". The positive PR message was taken up by TV and media in Japan and abroad. As a result, Loveplus+ was a huge hit achieving sales of 200,000, or 167% of the sales target. According to an online survey, half of the game’s buyers listed positive word-of-mouth as a reason for purchase.
The Situation
As LOVEPLUS+ was launched, Konami needed to take in a new buyer target in order to exceed the sales of preceding series. However, the potential target of men in the 20’s and 30’s strongly despised the game, labelling it as "for Otaku". The reason for this was because the media represented the hardcore players as "bizarre people" on TV and the web. We needed to change the message to one that people could relate to, without manipulating the game’s descriptions. We actually found a breakthrough in the "creepy Otaku" who was despised by the target segment.
The Goal
Our purpose was to change the perception from "a game for Otaku" to "a love game people can identify with". The target traditionally kept a distance from love games in general, thinking it was "creepy". However, it became evident from a survey that they had a tendency to try things that are trendy and that are heavily impacted by the media. We were convinced that if we were able to formulate a mass opinion - where otherwise frowned-upon Otaku values are accepted by the society - we could prompt the target to purchase the game.
The Strategy
Simulation love game Loveplus+ is a bit of an abnormal game in which the player connects with his "girlfriend" in the game to spend real time and seasons together. We tried to replace the context of the product by NOT "correcting the image" but by promoting "tolerance for different values". We then designed a process where the hardcore fans’ passions were made into a PR message. We chose the beach resort of Atami as a platform and designed a project for Otakus to be on a resort trip with their 'girlfriends'. We set up the environment so the entire city could warmly welcome otherwise despised Otakus. The atmosphere and the element of surprise spread smiles throughout the city and prompted people to feel "maybe it’s OK to have a relationship like this". It was our strategy to devise a process which transforms this message into positive PR.
Execution
We transformed the entire city of Atami, one of the most romantic beach resorts in Japan (a.k.a. Cannes of Japan), into the world of Loveplus+. We distributed the announcement about the "resort trip with girlfriends" only to the hardcore fans. AR markers compatible for iPhone apps were set in sightseeing spots of Atami, and if you used it, the "girlfriends in the game" would pop out and you could take a snap shot together. The girlfriends’ whispering voices were played on the bus and memorabilia was sold in the city. Even the mayor of Atami attended the opening ceremony to celebrate the event. Thanks to the hospitable support of the locals in Atami, the city was filled with Loveplus+ until the closing of the festival, all in an effort to make the fans feel as if they were on a trip with real "girlfriends".
Documented Results
As a result, Loveplus+ became a huge hit with 200,000 games sold -167% of the initial sales target of 120,000. According to an online survey, 65% of the buyers were normal men with stable partners. Also, half of them listed positive word-of-mouth as a reason for purchase. It was proof that the message was transformed by people tolerating different values. More than 4,000 hardcore fans attended the event in Atami during the 50 day period to enjoy the date with their "girlfriends" on a real resort. Media conveyed the positive message that "maybe it’s OK to have a relationship like this", and reported on the warm atmosphere of the city. Atami became a mecca for Loveplus+ fans thereafter, attracting voluntary visits of many with their "girlfriends" today. The hardcore fans are now our assets.