Charting the future of public relations
Sega Sports Summit
Paul Holmes
Holmes Report

Sega Sports Summit

Sega of America is a worldwide leader in interactive entertainment and is the sixth largest publisher of videogames in the United States. In this last year, Sega was able to double its marketshare in the sports genre with its Sega Sports brand videogames

Paul Holmes

Sega of America is a worldwide leader in interactive entertainment and is the sixth largest publisher of videogames in the United States.  In this last year, Sega was able to double its marketshare in the sports genre with its Sega Sports brand videogames, which now account for 50% of the total profit revenue for the company.  Because of the increasing popularity of Sega Sports games and the realization that this would start driving more of Sega’s overall business each year, the company wanted to re-launch the Sega Sports brand.

In 2001, Sega changed corporate strategy by making a decision to halt all future production of the Dreamcast videogame console. To that end, Sega is a company that is now 100% dedicated to creating videogames, with a new corporate mandate to become the worldwide leader in interactive entertainment by holiday 2003.


The biggest challenge faced by Access was that over the years Sega ultimately had been known for production of hardware in the industry.  Although Sega Sports had been a recognized name, it has always been tied to a specific console.  Sega wanted to use this event to get the message across that Sega Sports was a brand in itself as well as leave editors knowing that Sega Sports was no longer exclusive to one console or piece of hardware but rather that all games were available on all platforms. 


Recognizing the need for strong brand recognition to compete in this highly competitive market, Access recommended a media event called the Sega Sports Summit to re-launch the new Sega Sports brand.  Held September 5 and 6 in New York during the U.S. Open, the objectives of the event were to:
· Secure 30-40 media and analysts to attend
· Position Sega Sports as a leading sports brand and strengthen or build relationships with key sports, consumer and videogame media
· Secure event driven stories with online outlets
· Secure future stories on Sega Sports games


Prior to planning the event, Access conducted a media audit with top-tier sports, consumer and videogame media to determine what event would deliver the greatest return on investment in the form of coverage.  Access’ research revealed that editors wanted to hear newsworthy announcements, to be able to demo the upcoming games, and have access to interviews with top Sega executives.  Sports media specifically requested athletes to be on hand for interviews and photo ops.


As a result of these findings, Access ensured that Sega’s president would lead the event, and be on hand for interviews along with Sega’s vice presidents of marketing and corporate communications.  Access would use this opportunity to make major announcements regarding sponsorships, their $20 million marketing campaign, and all of the new games being slated for the upcoming platforms.   Access also made sure every game announced would be available for editors to have a hands-on experience.   To further entice media to attend, Access secured popular sports figures Marcus Camby and Kurt Thomas of the New York Knicks, as well as rapper R.O.C., to attend the event and draw in the highly coveted sports and entertainment media.

 As the coup de grace, Access coordinated an evening for media at the U.S. Tennis Open. This complemented the event since Venus Williams and Serena Williams, two leading competitors in the U.S. Open, are both cover athletes for one of Sega Sports’ biggest videogames, “Sega Sports Tennis 2K2.”  The event’s timing was planned around the U.S. Open for this specific tie-in.


The event kicked off in the evening with a cocktail party where media were able to rub elbows with Sega’s president and vice presidents in an informal setting.  The next day, Sega’s president, Peter Moore, opened things with news of Sega Sports’ $20 million marketing campaign, an array of new games, sponsorship announcements including what will be soon called the “Sega Sports Las Vegas Bowl,” and a humorous video, which outlined the entire Sega Sports line-up.  Access also had the lead Sega Sports game developer walk media though the key features of all of the upcoming titles.  To add to the celebrity feel, Sega’s president wrapped up the presentation with a pre-taped video from Serena Williams, who made one of the biggest announcements of the day-- the launch of “Sega Sports Tennis 2K2” on PlayStation2.

Following the presentation, Access took media around to demo the games, as well as facilitating broadcast interviews with the athletes and Sega executives, and one-on-one analyst briefings.  Access also used this time to nail down future stories on individual games with all of the editors in attendance.  That afternoon, media were whisked away to an evening at the U.S. Open, complete with dinner in Sega Sports’ hospitality tent and live demos of “Sega Sports Tennis 2K2.”


The event was a run-away hit and was by far, one of the most successful Sega press events that Sega has ever had.  All attendees walked away with a better understanding of the Sega Sports brand, the games and Sega's commitment to becoming the leading third party publisher.  From a corporate perspective, media walked away with yet another proof point as to how Sega is meeting milestones in building toward becoming the world's leader in interactive entertainment. 

Objective:  Attendance
Access was able to greatly exceed its measurable objective of securing 30-40 media and analysts by securing 70 editors, producers and analysts at the event. 

Objective:  Positioning Sega Sports as Leader
Access successfully met the objective of positioning Sega Sports as a leading brand and strengthening relationships with media as illustrated in the post event comments from various editors:
· Oppenheim Toy Portfolio - "Sega is a major force to be reckoned with in the industry.”
· Details  - “Sega is showing it’s going to be a player in the content world – can’t wait to see what happens next in the industry.”
· Newsweek - “ We’ll be reviewing the Sega Sports titles as they come out. I loved, LOVED Tennis 2K2.”
· BET  - “This was the best gaming event I’ve ever been to. The line up looks incredible and we are going to have some great shows come out of what we saw.”
· Source - “We’re including NBA 2K2 & NFL 2K2 in our December issue buyer’s guide.  We are NOT including Madden [Sega Sports’ leading competitor] and don’t expect to include any other sports games at all besides these two.”
· Sports Illustrated for Kids - “We’ll do something on every title you launch. Loved the Summit.”
· Sports Illustrated - " I thought the presentation was great. I feel like I have a good understanding of the direction SEGA is going and its upcoming products, and I enjoyed sampling the new games.”

Objective:  Event Specific Coverage
Access exceeded its objective of securing event specific coverage by not only gaining coverage with all of the onlines in attendance, but with several broadcast outlets as well.  Because Access had high-profile athletes on hand, Access was able to attract the aforementioned broadcast hits, including CBS Sports and BET television, which interviewed the NBA stars and key Sega executives for their segments.  Because we held an evening event at the U.S. Open, we were also able to secure an interview with a Sega exec with the backdrop of the Open in CBS’ hospitality tent.   Access was able to secure coverage with additional broadcast outlets by taping the event, and delivering the tapes within hours of the event to the headquarters of NBC and other satellite outlets.

Objective:  Future Coverage
Access successfully met its objective of securing future stories on Sega Sports titles; by slating 30 print hits with national media and 7 broadcast hits with regional and national media.  Additionally, to secure coverage with media who could not attend, Access made calls the day of the event to top-tier media and sent out releases with the news announced at the presentation.  These efforts resulted in coverage in top industry outlets like Sports Business Daily, who ran a story that day on the Vegas bowl sponsorship.

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