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Take Two's NBA Fantasy

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LOS ANGELES Independent 72andSunny has created a pro-basketball fantasy league as part of an integrated campaign for the release of Take Two's NBA 2K9 next month, according to Glenn Cole, co-creative director with Bryan Rowles on the work.

Convinced that "the best asset is the product itself, that it is the most lifelike NBA simulation," Cole's team conceived a "fantasy extension" that would drive sales of the game itself as well as cross-promote the title and brand. The agency was looking to "go beyond what the campaign is going to do, and deepen the experience beyond the brand," Cole said.

A beta version of the site is expected to launch this week in anticipation of the game's release Oct. 7, said Cole at the El Segundo, Calif., agency. Eight National Basketball Association players, including Kevin Garnett and Carlos Boozer, have agreed to participate in what the agency has branded as an alternate reality at "theotherseason.com." There will be a fantasy "draft" of 2K9 players by the pros themselves, who are managing teams such as Steve Nash's "Nash Potatoes."

In the first phase of the Other Season, gamers will submit user-generated videos to prove their worthiness as players to be drafted by the pros. Participants in the league who play Xbox Live or PlayStation Online would have their scores uploaded automatically. The better the drafted game players do, the better the pro's team advances.

The fantasy league is designed to encourage consumers to buy this year's version of the game and play competitively. "We're surrounding the game with content from the outside," said Cole. "Players will be trying to master the game to be the 'franchise' gamer for the hero."

The agency team -- which includes designer Jeff Beberman, writer Tim Wolfe and producer Angelo Ferrugia -- created a program that includes related e-mail pushes, forums, widgets and a daily news ticker to keep the league active. Gamers could receive e-mails from the pros lauding their performance, or cutting them from the team.

Print broke Sept. 16. Out of home and the site launch this week, and broadcast spots by 72andSunny break Oct. 3. Cole said the Other Season would go into playoffs ending Feb. 15, with prizes including public recognition by the pros.