Just weeks after pitching advertisers on the “Super Spot,” a new initiative that lets media buyers purchase inventory on the linear network and online at one negotiation point, ABC Family is going live with its first execution of the silo-busting concept.
In advance of the June 2 release of The Sims 3, game maker Electronic Arts has inked a deal with ABC Family that includes a two-minute game trailer, a 30-second spot featuring characters from the series Greek and a 30-second integrated tune-in. As part of the Super Spot buy, the first custom spot will debut on tonight’s installment of Greek. Wieden+Kennedy handled the buy for EA.
The Sims 3 spot opens on Zeta Beta Zeta pledge Rebecca (Dilshad Vadsaria) as she attempts to get Ashleigh (Amber Stevens) to power down her laptop and come to a party. “I know you love your new Sims 3, but why don’t you spend some time with some three-dimensional people?” Rebecca asks.
Before long, she too is drawn into the simulated reality of the game, which, in this particular incarnation, is populated by makeout bandits like Stefano and Jessica, “an ambitious klepto with commitment issues.”
In addition to the Greek-centric spot and the Sims 3 trailer, a tagged on-air :30 drives viewers to ABCFamily.com’s full-episode video player, which will be sponsored by EA through mid-July. Short-form spots will also serve as pre-roll.
A seamless TV/online buy has been long in coming, said Laura Nathanson, executive vp, ad sales, ABC Family. “When we first started selling our player, the TV and digital buyers expressed frustration that the process was more complicated than it had to be,” Nathanson explained. “We had to get past the notion that there was something materially different about digital. It’s still TV, it’s just coming from a different angle.”
In other words, the Super Spot approach helps eliminate the redundancy of the legacy system wherein the TV group locks in airtime before punting the digital component to the team down the hall.
Although the process was originally introduced on April 7, other clients are already poised to kick the tires. “EA was a bit faster on the uptake, but a couple of other people are talking to us about it,” Nathanson said, declining to ID the other potential clients. “Novelty sometimes requires a little hand-holding.”
The campaign marks EA’s biggest marketing commitment for a Sims launch since the franchise rolled out in 2000. Notably, EA bought time in the May 20 American Idol finale and space on seven Times Square billboards.
Given the Sims’ demographics––half the game’s adherents are female––the Greek buy is particularly well-targeted, said EA media strategist Amber Mayo. “The show pulls in our target demo and we’re buying in right at the height of its dramatic arc,” Mayo said. “ABC Family has been able to deliver on what so many media partners have promised and yet couldn’t pull off, and Wieden+Kennedy is always eager to bust through and innovate.”
Janco Partners analyst Mike Hickey predicts EA will move around 4 million units of Sims 3 this year, although piracy presents a considerable risk. According to file-sharing monitor BigChampagne, a buggy, bootleg version of the game was downloaded 180,000 times between May 18 and 21.
Analysts estimate EA will spend $18 million on marketing Sims 3. The company invested $79 million in measured media last year, and $9 million in the first quarter of 2009, per Nielsen.