Strategy, Concept, Execution
There’s an increasing buzz around Influencer Campaigns we’ve experienced over the past 9 months, both within the games industry and beyond. It seems there’s now an imperative for brands to have a strategy for this new area – not least because it’s delivered some great results.
So what are Influencer Campaigns and why are they important? Well, in essence, Influencer Campaigns are the practise of partnering with Influencer Talent to leverage their popularity and network or audiences through the creation of content, activity, event or experience etc. that communicates the brand or product message of the advertiser. It’s significant because Influencer Campaigns offer a new opportunity to reach a highly specialist audience – often including a substantial proportion of those all-important and evasive “millennials” – who advertiser fine increasingly hard to reach on TV and traditional advertising.
Maverick have recently completed Influencer Campaigns for two of Ubisoft’s recent game releases: Tom Clancy’s The Division and Rainbow Six: Siege; two separate but similar projects where we thought to share some best practise in what is a fast moving and evolving area of the media space. So here goes:
The Influencer Talent is the foundation around which the Influence Campaign Content is built. Quite simply, the Talent brings with them the audience and a credible voice to reach them – making the Talent choice and designing their form of engagement is perhaps the most important factor in the Influencer Campaign. In the case of video gaming campaigns, there are scores of highly successful and established YouTubers to choose from – each with their own unique online persona, each with a reputation for playing certain games, and with the likes of Ali-A, Vikkstar123, Slogoman and MasterOV commanding millions of subscribers. This represents a huge opportunity with the potential access a channel that can deliver 500K views in a matter of hours.
But it’s not quite as simple as merely identifying the Talent – YouTubers are very aware of their Superstar Status and the value of their audience. Influencer Talent can be sceptical about advertising and brands and the potential connotations to their fans (noting their principal income comes from YouTube/Google based on the audience they deliver, not the advertiser direct). So the offer to the Talent has to be the right one, and one designed to augment their profile – perhaps an offer that helps them make interesting and original content that helps them grow their audience too.
So the creative concept behind the campaign would then be the second most important element of the Influencer Campaign, and it’s the role of the creative agency to achieve this – gaining the interest and engagement of the Talent with a great idea, and one that aligns the personal brand of the talent with the advertisers brand message (about the game). And thirdly this idea has to result in the creation of sharable content that is exciting and unique and can be embraced and shared by the audience. How do we do this – well, (forgive the trumpet blow) that’s the bit where twenty years of experience of everything from “old skool” virals to creating award winning games trailers comes in:
There’s one set of challenges if the brief is to communicate about a product like Volvic, and another for a video game release – while in many ways, a game brief is a creative gift (given that the very nature of a game concept is to be amusing, entertaining, and involving some element of interactivity), the gaming audience is a tough one to please with a nose for being sold to. Thus, it’s essential that the Content delivers a worthwhile viewing experience, one that skilfully integrates the specific game product messages in a way that is authentic to the game (it’s not acceptable just to video Influencers on a PR jolly day out, or to create an extended “let’s play”). This Content sits in a new unique hybrid space between traditional TV content and advertising, and has to be on a par with the best of both worlds – delivering information and excitement with style, quality of execution, spectacle and production value that will get it noticed. Get the Content right and you have something the Talent is proud to share, often going beyond the scope of an agreement to get behind the campaign and resulting in increasing exposure in the form of additional Tweets, Instagram posts and other video postings – all inspired and aligned to the theme of the Content.
THE CAMPAIGN RESULTS
So while the content is the output, the results of the campaign are determined by its successful deployment and roll out. It’s not simply about the views on YouTube (that said, these two example campaigns for Ubisoft each clocked over a Million views within 36 hours – delivering a huge brand exposure to the exact target demographic.) An advertiser often has a remit to execute activity across multiple territories to achieve alignment of messaging as well as to help create cost savings and it’s best practise for an Influencer Campaign to be created so it can be reinterpreted and repeated for other territories. In the case of Rainbow Six: Siege, the idea of training Influencers for an SAS style assault on a 747 was reworked to provide the same experience for games journalists who could enjoy a simliar experience to the Influencers. Moreover, the high concept of assaulting a 747 was sufficiently inspiring for UK TV Show The Gadget Show to create an entire piece around Rainbow Six: Siege – adding millions to the audience. Similarly the concept of working with real Preppers allowed lad culture website UniLad the opportunity to create their own video content around learning the skills to survive in a The Division style environment.
The central concept is reinterpreted by UniLad who create their companion content based on the themes of the Influencer Campaign
“Another great project. I’m really happy with this one, and the project was very smooth and fun to work on.”
Global Advertising Campaign
Case Study: Mobile Esports Open
The Mobile Esports Open by ESL (MEO), a Red Bull mobile games tournament designed to engage both competitive and casual, mobile gamers with online and offline events culminating in the crowning a world champion. Maverick’s consulted around the communication strategy to create consumer awareness of MEO, link with the Red Bull brand and drive can purchases. Our “Open to All, Won by One” campaign proposition was brought to life with an Announce Trailer execution to promote the competition internationally to a broad and inclusive audience. As a piece of activity, the mobile tournament gave Red Bull a platform to partner with other gaming brands (Clash Royale, Arena of Valour and ESL) and extend awareness amongst consumers mobile while at the same time aligning with brand perception within esports generally.
Case Study: Level Up
With many different pieces of brand activity, sponsorship and initiatives, Maverick created a communication campaign for Red Bull to bring together and celebrate the range of gamers, athletes and communities the brand is involved with across the globe within gaming and esports. Under the banner of “Level Up”, Maverick produced a multi-execution video content campaign to present the brand’s participation in gaming and positioning Red Bull as an energy drink brand in an authentic way.
Case Study: Part of the Game
Part of the Game is a docu-series created by Red Bull, exploring the world of esports. Our brief was to leverage the authenticity of the documentary series and Red Bull’s association with it, bringing it to the attention of gamers, non-gamers and esports fans. Following our strategic consultancy, we developed an authentic, engaging and interactive social campaign with video executions to encourage gamers to interact and engage with the content
Concept, trailer, execution
We created pre-rolls focussing on the action and story elements of the game – which were shared over Bandai Namco’s social media channels to create hype prior to launch.
Our Launch Trailer was then used to introduce new characters, show off favourites, and demonstrate some awesome gameplay.
Our campaign went on to help DBFZ become the most successful digital console launch for a fighting game of all time – Destructive Finish!
Announcement Trailer, Strategy, Concept, Execution
From producing a ground-breaking and memorable in-engine first look trailer rendered entirely in CryEngine 3, to choreographed and captured multiplayer trailers, to tactical ideas and executions to make the most of a trailer’s release and create added value making-of assets – everything was completed in-house by the Maverick team, from creative concept to delivery, including all music sourcing, arrangement/mastering and licensing.
Benchmarks and expectations were sky-high – we worked in partnership with Crytek in the UK and Germany, and production and marketing teams at Electronic Arts to make sure the first look would blow the audience away – not only with the promise of CryEngine 3’s graphical quality, but by teasing an emotionally engaging experience that would appeal to the new target audience of console owners who were only aware of the game’s hardcore PC reputation.
A late night Times Square sneak peak of the trailer was arranged by Maverick to leverage buzz and interest around the launch of the trailer. Broadcasting a 30 second tease on the jumbotrons generated measurable increase in buzz including a significant increase in Facebook and Twitter followers in the 24 hours before the trailer was even released.
Promax Gold and Silver awards for “The Wall” followed, with over 2m YouTube within 4 weeks. Maverick continued their work on the title with a series of multiplayer trailer assets designed to promote the accessibility of Crysis 2’s MP experience for the new console audience, but also demonstrating depth and quality for the hardcore MP gamer, all directed and captured at Crytek UK.
“The Maverick team were flexible throughout production and demonstrated a variety of skills in a dynamic situation. The result is fantastic.”
Cinematics, Tutorials & Trailers
A relationship that’s lasted for over 5 years, spanned 5 different titles and now extends to an LBP production “family” that includes 3 other development teams to date began in 2008, before the world had heard of Sackboy, when Maverick were working alongside Media Molecule on the creative development, design and production of 60 tutorials for the release of LittleBigPlanet for PS3.
Scripting, storyboarding, directing and finishing all tutorials, we worked in close partnership with the development and production teams to manage fluid schedules, functionality changes, daily build updates, stakeholder approvals and localisation co-ordination across all territories. Our in-game involvement is rounded off by beautiful live action sequences that transport the player from the everyday world to one of imagination and possibility, all voiced with the dulcet tones of Mr Stephen Fry.
On every release we have worked hard to create a balance between imparting detailed information and ensuring that the tutorials are always fun and entertaining. Understanding the LittleBigPlanet brand was vital in order to create tutorials and intro sequences that were always consistent with the style and tone of the game. Our relationship with Media Molecule was a key factor in this, and we have worked closely with them, Sony ExDev production teams and 3rd party developers such as Tarsier, Double Eleven and Cambridge Studios on each release to define and develop the video assets that have become such an importantand integral part of the LittleBigPlanet experience.
Our intros and tutorials receive special mentions in reviews for making the potentially daunting creation experience so much easier. And we’re very proud that our logo and credits appear on each release.
“We have been known to call them the Maverick Angels.”
Global TV, Cinema, Radio Trailers
If you haven’t already played it yet, we humbly suggest you do – because it delivers on its promise of making you feel like you are at the heart of this iconic world in a way that none of the previous games in the franchise has been able to.
We played through an early build in the office, and the visceral sense of tension punctuated by extreme terror made us jump even in broad daylight – and we were determined to convey this through the campaign creative.
Working intensely alongside SEGA and CA, we delivered a broad range of dynamic content across Europe and the US, helping to cement the already heightened sense of anticipation in gamers worldwide.
“… A CHILLING NEW TV SPOT” – DIGITAL SPY
“… SUITABLY HORRIFYING” – MCV
“… USES OLD VIDEO TECHNIQUES FOR NEW FEAR” – WIRED
“… SETS SCENE FOR TERROR” – POLYGON
POKÉMON GO BUDDY ADVENTUREAnimation, Featured, Trailers, TV, Video
TEKKEN 7Esports, Featured, Key Art, Social, Strategy, Trailers
RED BULL ESPORTS ACTIVATIONSEsports, Featured, Social, Trailers, TV, Video
DRAGON BALL FIGHTERZEsports, Regular, Trailers, Video
DARK SOULS: REMASTEREDRegular, Trailers
BLEEDING EDGERegular, Social, Trailers
CRYSIS 2Regular, Strategy, Trailers, TV, Video
LITTLEBIGPLANETKey Art, Regular, Strategy, Trailers, Video
PAC-MAN 256Regular, Trailers, Video
SPARCEsports, Key Art, Trailers
Mobile Campaign & Key Art
We don’t know about you, but we’ve spent a lot of time recently running from Pinky, Inky, Blinky and Clyde.
We’re talking, of course, about the infamous ghosts from iconic arcade Pac-Man.
Inspired by the infamous Pac-Man level 256 glitch, Pac-Man 256 is an endless runner for mobile with the retro nostalgia of the original game, but also boasting brand new features. It was up to us to show both these elements in the new assets for the launch of the campaign.
We started with the announcement trailer, a CG trailer designed to show viewers that Pac-Man and the ghosts were back. And with them, comes (intentionally this time,) the threat of the glitch. The launch trailer continued this idea, whilst also demonstrating one of the new power-ups offered in the game with some light-hearted humour.
In addition, we designed the app icon, key art and created screenshots to show the most exciting elements of the game.
November 2015: Pac-Man 256 mobile campaign won Best Mobile Campaign at the Game Connection Europe 2015 Marketing Awards!
The Pokémon Company
Social Media Videos
Pokémon GO wanted to do something to celebrate summer in Europe. It’s the perfect time of year to encourage trainers to get out-and-about catching the Pokémon up for grabs, given the gorgeous sunny weather… right? The truth is, things rarely go the way they’re planned. Your beach visit will likely end in showers, you might not get that perfect Instagram pic you wanted, and you could just end up with socks as your present… again.
For the summer campaign, Maverick homed in on the expectation vs. reality meme. The meme is iconic across the web, from Twitter to Reddit, so it seemed like a fun way for Pokémon to incorporate popular meme culture into its campaigns and also for Maverick to produce something fun and relatable.