When the executive producer of a game about a war against space aliens decides himself to travel to space, what can be expected? That he designs a marketing campaign around his space travel, of course.
Richard Garriott, a luminary in the video game industry, made arrangements to travel to the International Space Station on a Russian Soyuz spacecraft in October. From there, a marketing campaign was crafted to promote the “Tabula Rasa” game released last year.
“He worked for years on this science fiction game, going into space, fighting on other planets, and he’s going to go to into space himself. It makes sense that with him going into space we should tie this in,” said Starr Long, the producer of “Tabula Rasa” at NCsoft.
NCsoft teamed up with digital agency MindComet to create a campaign to get gamers to participate, and sign up for the game. The result is “Operation Immortality.” Users can go to the site to “leave your mark.” The mission is to collect an imprint or “reboot” of humankind, a time capsule telling of humanity’s greatest achievements through user comments and polls. Users can vote on the best songs, musical groups, movies, and other icons deemed important.
All contributions, including the digital DNA of select users, will be uploaded to a 16 gigabyte Flash drive and brought to the International Space Station as an “offsite backup.” The DNA samples include 40 winners from weekly drawings, a number of members of the press, and celebrities. Some of those celebrities include best selling author Tracy Hickman, Olympic gold medalist Scott Johnson, and Texas musician Joe Ely.
MindComet crafted the campaign, though the agency split several marketing duties with NCsoft. “It was a partnership, there were things they wanted to handle internally, and things they needed our support with,” said David Martin, creative director at MindComet.
On the Operation Immortality site, users can respond to polls and submit their thoughts on what they think are turning points in history. Visitors can also learn more about the Tabula Rasa game
E-mail campaigns targeted current and inactive NCsoft customers including customers of other games. “Predominantly we want to tap into existing NCsoft customers, inactive customers, users in other campaigns; [we] sent targeted e-mails to those targeted groups,” Martin said.
Messaging included information on new features and deployments that were part of Tabula Rasa. In the case of inactive users, the messaging urged them to get on board the Operation Immortality campaign. “We changed the messaging [for different user segments], with different subjects, e-mails, different calls-to-action,” said Martin.
The site was launched on July 30, and will run close to the time when Garriott rockets into space in October. A banner ad campaign, run by NCsoft, continues to maintain the momentum. The buy includes a homepage takeover on MMORPG.com featuring a Tabula Rasa and Operation Immortality inspired background. The media buy includes homepage takeovers and banners running on other game enthusiast sites as well.
An additional site supporting the campaign is Richard in Space, which details Garriott’s experiences and objectives in going into space.
The contest will end before the Russian Soyuz spacecraft launches on October 12. However, NCsoft has further plans. “There’s going to be in-game events while Richard is in space — inside the game,” Long said. The details have yet to be announced. “We’ll be in communication with him while he’s there.”
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