Media: Strategy Analysis - Competition is the name of the game

Brand: Gamestation
Client: Gamestation
Brief: Drive footfall and boost brand appeal among hard-core gaming
audience
Target audience: Gamers
Budget: £100,000

AGENCIES
Media strategy: Rocket
Creative: Cheethambell JWT

STRATEGY

Gamestation needed to drive general footfall to its retail outlets as well as become the destination of choice for hard-core gamers, who provide the largest revenue potential.

In the past, Gamestation had used local poster campaigns and print ads in the gaming press to direct people to the stores, but, in the virtual shopping world, directing gamers to stores isn't enough. The challenge was to provide gamers with more reasons to get excited about visiting Gamestation.

Based on the insight that gamers are hugely competitive, Rocket created the Ultimate Gamer competition to find the Ultimate Gamer in the West Midlands. Not only would this get hard-core gamers excited about competing in the ultimate gaming experience, but, by holding the competition heats in-store, it would also drive traffic to the Gamestation stores.

EXECUTION

- Mobile gaming pods: Rocket hired ten digital advertising vans and turned them into huge computer consoles, allowing the gamers of the West Midlands to experience and compete at a whole new level. Queues of more than 1,000 people waited for up to two hours to experience playing on the big screen. Rocket also used the ad vans to distribute information regarding the competition heats.

- Radio: Radio is the major media the target audience consume while gaming. Rocket promoted the competition on Kerrang! Radio, the ideal station for the target audience.

- Web: Rocket promoted the competition through gaming blogs, allowing gamers to spread the message themselves.

- Guerrilla: Rocket also developed an integrated on-street campaign using a variety of ambient media, from fly-posting to mural writing at local skate parks. Student Ultimate Gamer stands were created for Freshers' Week, where students could meet fellow gamers and sign up for the competition.

- Cinema: A gaming area was built at local cinemas, where people could practice for the competition and get more details on how to enter.

- In-store: To run the competition, each store created an Ultimate Gamer Zone, where gamers could test their ability. The competition heats took place in the stores over four consecutive Saturdays, with 20 winners progressing to the final each week.

- The finals: Rocket wanted the finals to provide the ultimate gaming experience. To achieve this, it took over the ultimate big-screen location: the digital cinema screen at the Odeon in central Birmingham, with seating for more than 500 people, on 28 October 2006. Not only did this provide real impact for those taking part, it also allowed the general public to view and support the gamers.

RESULTS

Following the competition, Rocket ran a campaign in-store and on the Gamestation website announcing the Ultimate Gamer, Andy Hall.

More than 10,000 gamers entered, providing a rich database for future activity. It was the most successful promotion Gamestation has ever run in terms of driving store traffic, with store footfall increasing by 25 per cent during the campaign. This increase was not just on competition heat days, but also during the week in which gamers came in to practice. Sales significantly increased during this period and have since returned to a higher base level.

The promotion is being rolled out nationally, with regional winners competing to become the UK's Ultimate Gamer.

THE VERDICT - Stuart Sullivan-Martin, chief strategy officer, Mediaedge:cia

As a geeky 13-year-old with train-track braces, an unnatural obsession with Miami Vice and a dream to be Young Musician of the Year, I entered Yamaha Organ Magazine's chance to win a small keyboard with Rumba beats (think Beverly Hills Cop), and won!

I've only entered one other competition in my life, and won that too! So, with that kind of strike-rate, why don't I enter one a day? Well, like many people, I only bother with competitions that genuinely grab my interest and engage on a personal level.

In which case, why has the "interactive competition with a microsite and text-to-enter mechanic" become the latest staple of the communications agency response? In the drive to engage with consumers, planners sometimes mistake the offer to interact with the skill of genuinely uncovering what drives the desire to interact. There are so many lazy offers dressed up as competitions out there, and many databases generated by bland promotions get lost in the melee.

The good ones, though - the really well-constructed competitions - work a treat. They are focused, creative, get people talking - borne of a real understanding of the target consumer and what will push his or her buttons.

This work for Gamestation is a case in point. Hard-core gamers are introverted and online. How do you entice them in-store? Answer: you spark their competitive nature. A public gaming competition to bring the gamers out from behind their rumble packs is a great core idea. The blogging approach along with sheer implementation willpower is impressive. And aside from the oblique assertion that "more than 1,000 people waited for up to two hours to play", the results appear to speak for themselves: increased footfall, increased sales and a database of hard-core gamers. All in all, a great campaign.

The only two questions are: first, aside from this tactical push, what are Gamestation's plans for its retail estate in an increasingly digital market? And second, is this campaign scalable to a national level? My guess is it'll be tough. So, it gets four out of five as a cracking regional test. If it's rolled out nationally and the results are as good as this - it should get a five in anyone's book.

Score: 4 out of 5.

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