Sony’s Got Game on Movie, TV Screens

LOS ANGELES A branding campaign of four spots for Sony Computer Entertainment America game titles and the PlayStation 2 breaks over the Thanksgiving weekend, said Ami Blaire, director of product marketing.

Two of the ads premiere at the movies. Blaire said the Foster City, Calif., company expects to do nearly half its business for the year in the coming month. SCEA spent $21 million on ads in December 2002, per TNS Media Intelligence/CMR.

The spots were created at Omnicom’s TBWA\Chiat\Day, Playa del Rey, Calif., by Jerry Gentile, creative director and art director; Raymond Wang, copywriter; and Mila Davis, producer. One wide-screen format cinema ad (“Future”) was produced in both a Teen-rated version to play with movies such as Cat in the Hat and Looney Tunes: Back in Action and in a Mature-rated trailer that will run before films like Barbarian Invasions and The Last Samurai. The T-rated “Future” starts a TV run this week as well.

The creative involves a collage of screen shots with a voiceover associating archetypes with the game heroes of various titles: “League MVP, Innovator, Stunt Man, Commander, Exterminator, Explorer.” The announcer asks: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” in the teen spot, and “It’s never too late for a career change” for mature gamers. The “PlayStation: The only place to play” tag plays off the most recent campaign, “Live in your world, play in ours.” Screenvision, New York, is the cinema vendor.

SCEA has been running movie ads for six years, including several spot premieres, such as that for Jak II last July. “Cinema advertising has been very effective for us,” said Blaire. “The reason why we have committed to cinema every year is the tremendous unaided recall shown by our own research and Communicus-commissioned ad tracking.”

Two new TV spots break over Thanksgiving. “Jingle Bell Rock” presents the titles’ most raucous game footage timed against the pop classic and ends with the tag, “Share the joy this holiday season.” “Playground,” in both 30- and 60-second versions, evolves from the successful “Signs” campaign of last year. A businessman levitates, Doberman pinschers climb walls, bike messengers do barrel rolls and a woman becomes young and acrobatic, all when they hit a magic zone on the street, revealed to be in front of a store displaying PS 2 hardware.

“The psychographic of the market is tech savvy, entertainment driven, with an innate sense of adventurer,” said Blaire. “In this campaign we’re broadening beyond those familiar with the PlayStation world, re-inviting consumers without alienating the 18-34 ‘imaginator.’ “

Blair said SCEA has sold 21 million PlayStations in North America, and now distributes 639 game titles. The company spent $47 million of its $98 million 2002 ad expenditures in the fourth quarter, according to TNS Media Intelligence/CMR.