Post-Myst Minimalism: Saatchi Spares Words in Spartan Print Series

SAN FRANCISCO-Red Orb Entertainment, a division of Broderbund Software, has launched the first phase of a new campaign to herald the arrival of Riven, the sequel to the best-selling CD-ROM game, Myst. Three print ads, created by Saatchi & Saatchi here, will run through November in hard-core computer and gaming magazines such as Electronic Gaming Monthly, Computer Gaming World and Wired.
This is the first time Broderbund has advertised a computer gaming product. Myst, which was launched in 1993, became a huge success without advertising.
Broderbund officials would not comment on billings, but sources estimate the Riven campaign to be backed by at least $2 million. This is a significant expenditure in the computer gaming industry, where firms typically spend less than $500,000 to promote new products, those sources said.
Riven will not officially be released until later this fall. “Broderbund wanted to get the really avid, hard-core gamers to get the word of mouth going about Riven,” said Kim Kline, account director at Saatchi. “That’s why we are hitting them first with a special print campaign.”
There is no tagline or client logo used in the print ads. In fact, at first glance it appears there is no text at all, until the visuals are examined more closely. One ad shows a grove of trees and a sheet of white paper on the ground in the distance. One of the trees is carved faintly with “,” a subtle invitation to visit the game’s official Web site.
“So far, the hits to our site have far exceeded expectations,” said Bruce Fredericks, senior brand manager of Red Orb Entertainment. “We attribute [much] of this success to the advertising.”
The second phase of the campaign breaks in late October. That effort will include print ads in more mainstream publications such as Home PC, ComputerLife and Family PC. Broderbund is also considering pursuing a broadcast campaign with television spots that would run through the holiday season.