A decent promotional campaign is what makes a product stand out and open the gates to success. When speaking about decency in promotional strategy a formality or a certain official format is not always the necessary tactic to adopt. The evident success of few brilliant promotional campaigns in video game industry proves that a decent strategy is not bonded to any formal limitations.
The developer and publisher of The Elder Scrolls series, Bethesda proclaimed a bizarre challenge to its fans to have a baby on the release date of Skyrim 11/11/11 and name the newborn after the fictional dragon and the protagonist of the game Dovahkiin. Instead of having a formal announcement of the upcoming game, the vice president of public relations of Bethesda Pete Hines came up with a rather astonishing challenge “So, think you have the stat points in you to produce the perfect eight pound dragon-slayer?...While it may be difficult to play Skyrim from the hospital, just think of how many late nights you'll have to lull your little Dragonborn with Jeremy Soule's soothing music.”
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An unknown reward was promised to those brave enough to take the challenge and complete the "quest." Announced on the 18th of February 2011, Hines claimed it was a perfect day to conceive in order to create their dragon slaying baby Dovahkiin. It is worth noting that a disclaimer was posted on Bethesda Blog stating that “Any reward for completing this quest will not ultimately justify the potential teasing your child could — and probably will — endure over its lifespan”. Bethesda clearly framed that they were not responsible for the parenting, additionally claiming “You may gain experience points for completing this quest, but you will not care at 3am on a work night. Completion of this quest may also result in decreased desire to play video games and/or function as a human being. Consult with your friends before embarking on this quest; while it may not start in prison, it probably ends there.”
Back in the February of 2011 it was hardly believable that anyone would take the challenge seriously, however as a surprise to everyone a brave couple successfully completed the quest. On the 11th of November 2011, a dragon-baby was born. Megan and Eric Kellermeyer named their newborn son Dovahkiin and beat the challenge. The news broke and spread all over the social media including Bethesda blog, where the couple was warmly congratulated. The promised unknown reward was revealed to be a lifelong free access to every Bethesda game - past, present, and future, and gifted to both the couple and Dovahkiin.
The sequel of a science fiction survival video game Dead Space 2 stands out with not only its impressive gore and horror, but also with its promotional campaign, which similar to the game was based on thrills and chills itself. In 2011 the contest named “Your Mom Hates Dead Space 2” was announced by EA before the official game release. The title already says it all. The whole concept was filming middle-aged mothers getting scared. EA launched a video of moms reacting to selected scenes from Dead Space 2 and challenged their fans to record their mothers as well. The participants were told to record and tweet the reactions with the hashtag #mymomhatesdeadspace2 in order to test their chances of winning a Dead Space 2 skinned PS3. Inevitably the campaign received both positive and negative reviews. While there were some who criticized the contest for promoting stereotypes and condemned EA for selecting middle-aged and conservative mothers for their video, the campaign reached a huge success and became a digital trend. If the moms of the targeted group hate it, than the target would love it even more. The marketing strategy of EA was praised and defended by many involved in the industry. The success of the campaign did not end with the approval of notable voices, but went as far as EA winning Mi6 Game Marketing award for 2011 Outstanding Overall Marketing Campaign of the Year.
While some marketers limit themselves within the frames of what is innocent and appropriate the game series of Resident Evil take the promotion tactics to a whole new level. In 2009 in order to promote the launch of Resident Evil 5 the company announced a body part treasure hunt in London’s Trafalgar Square. Realistic looking heads, arms, legs, torsos covered in chicken liver were hidden in certain locations for participants to find. The aim of the hunt was to use the given clues to detect and collect as many body parts as possible before anyone else would find them. The winner was promised a holiday for 2 in Africa as a reward. It comes as no surprise that the hunt caused a huge media hype. Additionally, the treasure hunt and the game itself caught massive attention including the interest of tourist and pedestrians walking by. Eventually, the hunt ended when the prize was awarded to a 26 year old IT consultant from North London Steve Long.
Resident Evil game series never stop surprising with the astonishing marketing strategies behind them. In 2012 the launch of Resident Evil 6 came up with another controversial and excellent promotional campaign. Never leaving gore aside, the launch of the sequel was promoted in one of the London's famous butcheries called Smithfield, where meat was designed and shaped to look like various human body parts ready for sale. Impressively realistic looking torsos, limbs and full human bodies as well were crafted from meat, displayed for visitors to look or buy. It is worth noting that the profits and the left meat went to charity to the UK Limbless Association where it was given to amputees who have lost their limbs. Once again the promotional campaign of Resident Evil caused a huge media hype as the news and the pictures of the cannibalistic butchery went viral. The attention of masses was captured guaranteeing tremendous success.
The mentioned tactics used in Skyrim, Dead Space 2, Resident Evil 5&6 clearly prove that a marketing strategy should not be bonded to a certain format. Quite the opposite - the creativity and bravery of crafting a new and in some cases shocking technique is what makes a campaign stand out and reach to masses. The unique challenge of Skyirm that ended up catching the attention of the news, the digital trend invented by the PR campaign of Dead Space 2 and the bravery of Resident Evil series of jumping into the controversial side is what made their way into creating impressive promotional campaigns.