Few segments of the population would seem more geek-worthy to be targeted by social media than "Trekkies." That idea has not been lost on Atari Inc., which has been building buzz for the Feb. 2 launch of its "Star Trek Online" video game via Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and online gaming communities.
For Twitter, the New York-based company has created a microsite-app combo, dubbed "Tweet in Klingon," that allows viewers to type English phrases and have them tweeted in fictional Klingon language. The feature plays off the upcoming role-playing video game, as it involves customizable player-characters from the "Klingon Empire" and other related player-generated content.
In the last few months, Atari's dedicated YouTube channel has seen more than 539,000 views for the game's preview clip and trailer. Its Facebook "fan" page has accrued a modest 27,000 fans.
More interesting is Atari's partnership with Del Taco that not only entails promotions at the fast-food retailer's home page, but also a Facebook tie-in. The Lake Forest, CA-based restaurant chain's Facebook account, which has 30,000 "fans," includes a "Star Trek Online" tab at the top.
Viewers who click the tab can access a free online trial of the game, watch a trailer, download game-themed wallpaper, and learn about the four collectible "Star Trek Online" cups that are available in Del Taco locations.
Perhaps most importantly, Atari has been employing a free sneak-peek tactic in the "Easter egg" tradition. In recent months, access codes -- or "keys" as the company is calling them -- have slowly been made available at gamer sites like MMOGamer.com, NowGamer.com, Massively.com, Alltern8.com, and IncGamers.com, among others. The brand has also done PR-styled work with online communities like SciFi.com, Mashable.com, GeekGirls, StarFleet, and TreksinSciFi.com to spread the word about the codes.
Marketing companies pitching in on the multifaceted effort include Ayzenberg Group, Dan Klores Communications, DKC Connect, and Tyze. Jonathan Anastas, VP of marketing for Atari, said his team has been using its social media dashboard to adjust the initiative on the fly.
"It has been common to hear things like, 'Shift the forum focus to the subscription promotions,'" he said. "Or, 'Add a pre-sell button to the Tweet in Klingon app.'"
Other promotions have focused on ad networks and Google SEM/SEO, Anastas explained. "We've more than doubled our digital spend each month for the last three [months]," he said.
Anastas briefly commented on product placement and other branding possibilities in the video game: "Our longer-term business models anticipate all kinds of new revenue streams beyond subscription and initial purchase."
It's worth noting that Atari plans to employ an interesting price point for "Star Trek Online." While fairly standard monthly ($15) and yearly ($119) subscriptions for the online game will be available, the company is also offering an unusual lifetime subscription for $240.
The publicly-held Atari wouldn't divulge results that could indicate how pre-order sales are going. Yet, Anastas said that his brand was "extremely pleased" with numbers coming in at popular video game site GameStop.com. He also suggested that e-mail, print, and TV-based promotions would be utilized for "Star Trek Online" in the coming weeks.
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Christopher Heine was a senior writer for ClickZ through June 2012. He covered social media, sports/entertainment marketing, retail, and more. Heine's work has also appeared via Mashable, Brandweek, DM News, MarketingSherpa, and other tech- and ad-centric publications. USA Today, Bloomberg Radio, and The Los Angeles Times have cited him as an expert journalist.
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