NEW YORK To launch its alternative sports title Shaun White Snowboarding, Ubisoft is trying an alternative approach to the traditional videogame ad formula. The French game maker will spend $10 million to run a series of nontraditional media buys leading up to the title's Nov. 16 launch.
Anyone watching South Park's first two episodes will find the game nearly impossible to miss. For the series premiere Oct. 8, Ubisoft purchased all of the inventory and will run three separate two-minute spots for its flagship Shaun White Snowboarding, Prince of Persia and Farcry 2 titles. The second episode will feature only ads for Shaun White Snowboarding.
"It's the first time they are going to see the game, so we wanted to give them a nice grasp of what it looks like," said Danny Ruiz, associate director of brand marketing, Ubisoft, San Francisco. "This is a better alternative to running a bunch of 30-second ads that piss people off because they've seen them so many times."
On Nov. 16, Olympic gold medalist White will make appearances on ESPN's shows through the day to talk about the game. On Nov. 19, the brand will launch a "White Out" across various Viacom channels. At 10 p.m., viewers of MTV, Spike, Comedy Central and other channels will see their screens turn into snow for five seconds. Then the two-minute trailer for the game will launch. Ads will also run during the Family Guy and NFL games. The campaign, dubbed "See you on the mountain," was created by Cutwater, San Francisco.
"We're not sure what the return-on-investment will be, but if we follow the traditional route, it will bore our audience," said Ruiz.
Continuing this train of thought, the spots will air before the movie It's Always Snowing Somewhere. Created by Burton snowboards, which sponsors White, the film will be shown during a 10-city theater tour. Print spreads in November gaming and action sports magazines will include a snowboard decal that just reads "White."
The time is ripe for a snowboarding title as SSX Tricky and Amped have faded into the past, said Scott Steinberg, managing director of Embassy Multimedia Consultants. "Nobody has capitalized on it...It's the 'strike where they are not' scenario."