MEDIA: STRATEGY OF THE WEEK - SONY ERICSSON T310

BlueberryFrog plans to sell the T310 via word of mouth. Rebecca Beer investigates.

The strategy backing the launch of Sony Ericsson's T310 handset is as unconventional as its target audience.

A multimillion-pound pan-European campaign, created and planned by the Amsterdam-based agency BlueberryFrog, aims to appeal to 16- to 24-year-old street-sports and computer-gaming fans.

Accordingly, BlueberryFrog has not deployed any above-the-line activity.

"The target audience has dictated the media we have used. Skateboarders and computer gamers are not likely to be sitting around watching television: they are either playing on their computers or out and about skating," Mark Chalmers, the creative director at BlueberryFrog, explains.

The agency, which specialises in guerrilla marketing, has built the campaign around skateboarding and gaming competitions, with a "man meets machine" element.

The activity is intended to reach thousands of consumers directly, while creating a snowball effect via the online component. It exploits and highlights the features of the T310 mobile phone, which offers a highly sophisticated level of computer game play. The handset features polyphonic sound, a joystick, vibrating force feedback, colour display and the ability to download games from the Sony Ericsson website. Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4 game comes as part of the package.

In a direct appeal to street-culture fans and skateboarders, BlueberryFrog has developed a 14-country skateboarding contest, which will be underpinned by guerrilla, radio and online and viral executions. The UK heats will take place at Game On in the Dome and at the National Adventure Sports Show in Peterborough. The finale of the competition will take place at the Skateboard World Championship in Copenhagen, Denmark, in July.

Also, this week, "Skate Stations" - branded sofas customised with rucksacks and T310 handsets - will be placed in skate parks across Europe, offering the chance for skaters to test their virtual skateboarding skills, via the new handset.

"With the launch of the T310, we are bridging the gap between street sports and gaming," Chalmers says.

Online activity will aim to capitalise on the target audience's high usage of the internet. The online activity uses a new style of Flash banner that shows a skater flying across the screen. The skater entices the audience into a skater versus gamer test and game, which is intended to spark debate and interest in the theme: "Is it cooler to skate or game?"

The campaign's website, www.skate-game.com, went live last week. It will host the European league tables and scores for each participating country, as well as listing the locations of Skate Stations.

Chalmers suggests that the skateboarders taking part will themselves form a credible and integral part of the campaign.

A radio campaign across Europe will promote the website and the local street heats and events, with on-air competitions and skateboarding-related editorials. Competitions will offer handsets and VIP trips to the Skateboard World Championships as prizes.

"At the final, we are planning on having a bit of fun and pitching the skaters against the gamers for real," Chalmers says. "So what-ever the gamers do on the phones, the skaters will have to copy on their boards and vice-versa, actually demonstrating man against machine."

Although BlueberryFrog is the lead agency on the campaign, a European network of independent PR and marketing agencies, has worked alongside it, on a project basis. The UK PR agency is Renegade Media, with Media-edge:cia working on media planning and buying where required.