In late October, the video game industry waited with bated breath as Sony prepared to launch its ultra hyped and much anticipated 128-bit PlayStation 2 video game console in the United States. Meanwhile, Sega was touting the one-year anniversary of its Dreamcast hardware on the heels of its second wave of Dreamcast software. It was no coincidence that Nintendo launched its new video game, The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask for the Nintendo 64 video game console, on this same day – October 26, 2000. The battle cry sounded as the video game community wondered how Nintendo would be able to line up an individual piece of Nintendo video game software up against these fierce competitors. Challenging, yes. Impossible, no. Golin/Harris International was faced with numerous challenges, from both a media and consumer standpoint.
Sony’s PlayStation 2 launch
Sega Dreamcast hardware
The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask is a sequel to the record selling The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
Sony announced that it was launching with only half of the original allotment of PlayStation 2 systems
Nintendo makes the best video games in the industry
Zelda is a recognized franchise with a strong following among gamers
Create an early buzz and mystery surrounding the theme and launch of The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask among fans and media to pre-empt competitors
Communicate to media that Nintendo makes the best video games in the industry, both through game sampling and retail sales
Ensure Nintendo’s The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask inclusion in the day’s overall video game stories
Phase I – Build video game enthusiast interest through previews/reviews by key long lead media outlets
Phase II – Create buzz among consumer media through covert teaser campaign
Phase III – Capitalize on October 26th media coverage of the video game industry
Phase I: - “Gamers’ Summit” 72 Hours with The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask
Golin/Harris invited key video game media to Seattle to preview The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask and learn about key elements of the game and experience the vast game play adventure and uniqueness. This targeted outreach helped secure three video game enthusiast magazine covers, numerous previews on video game Web sites and began building momentum for launch.
Phase II: - Tiered media teasers and mailings
By capitalizing on the objective of the video game, in which the gamer has only 72 hours to “save” the world, Golin/Harris created three tiered postcard mailings to media, starting eight weeks prior to launch. Also, prior to the postcard mailings, cloaked emails were sent to targeted media, encouraging them to visit the pseudo scientific Web site, www.z-science.com, claiming to have discovered a “parallel universe.” Postcard #1: Featured a crop field with a mask burned into it, urging people to visit www.radiozelda.com, the grass roots organization that followed the z-science Web site while attempting to raise awareness that the world was going to come to an end when the moon crashed into the earth. Postcard #2: A few weeks later, a second postcard was sent with a colorized mask covering the face of the Statue of Liberty with the verbiage, “Things are not as they appear … Zelda is near.” Postcard #3: And finally, 72-hours before the media received their Zelda-themed press kit and video game for review, the last post card arrived attached to a plastic baggie with “moon rocks” enclosed, reading “You’ve got 72 hours before more than this lands on your desk!” The first two teaser postcards were so compelling and inventive they were published “as-is” in the San Jose Mercury News and the Contra Costa Times in an article stating Zelda would be a “fun substitute for a PlayStation 2.”
Phase III: - Launch events featuring Zelda Survivor Zones
Golin/Harris knew that trying to ‘top’ Sony’s news story wasn’t likely; so to become part of the larger video game industry story, Golin/Harris coordinated simultaneous launch events in Los Angeles and Atlanta on October 26th at highly trafficked retail locations. Through its Zelda Survivor Zone, and enlisting television’s “Survivor” star Gervase Peterson, Golin/Harris provided consumers a chance to play The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask in a relaxed and comfortable environment to help them survive the biggest video game shopping day of the year. On hand was a massage therapist, face painter, tips on how to survive the video game holiday shopping season and giveaways including Zelda-branded t-shirts and masks.
Golin/Harris succeeded in helping Nintendo grab a share of voice within the overall industry stories on launch day, garnering an impressive 5.6 million television impressions. The combined media placements of print, television, radio and online reached an audience of more than 80 million. By securing more than 40 print articles alone prior to launch day, Golin/Harris created a buzz among both consumers and media that translated led to sales landing The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask among the top three spots for entire calendar year of 2000 among console games across all platforms and has sold more than 1.2 million copies to date.
Below is a sample of the media outlets that covered the The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask launch campaign: USA Today Newsweek: Cyberscope EGM Oct. cover Los Angeles Times Newsweek's E-Life Expert Gamer Dec. cover New York Times U.S. News & World Report Ign64.com Washington Post Time Digital Nov. Dailyradar.com Chicago Tribune Time Digital Dec. Gamefan.com Newsday Popular Science Gamespot.com San Francisco Chronicle Family Fun Magazine Family.com Daily News TV Guide Fastestgamenews.com GameZcape-FOX KIIS-FM, Los Angeles NewsOne-ABC, Nat. TECH NEWS-FOX, Nat. WBTS-FM, Atlanta WPVI-ABC, Philadelphia
EGM Oct. cover
Los Angeles Times
Expert Gamer Dec. cover
New York Times
U.S. News & World Report
Time Digital Nov.
Time Digital Dec.
San Francisco Chronicle
Family Fun Magazine
KIIS-FM, Los Angeles
TECH NEWS-FOX, Nat.