On a lonely New York subway platform, an elderly woman waits alone. Suddenly, a thug approaches and makes a quick grab for her purse. The film freezes and the viewer is taken straight into Japanese video game publisher Konami’s Hybrid Heaven. It’s as if the viewer is trying to make a selection in the Heaven’s Attack Phase screen between a punch, a kick and combinations of both.
Next, the viewer is transported into a fight scene between game hero Johnny Slater and a monster, possibly intercut with clips of granny getting the bad guy good. The spot ends with granny shaking herself off, having given the crook a good licking, and muttering ‘Wimp!’ as she strides off into the night.
A voice-over says, ‘Don’t flirt with danger. . . kick its ass.’
And that’s the kind of attitude that Gen Y unit G-Whiz!, a subsidiary of New York-based ad giant Grey Advertising, plans to use to appeal to the youth market.
The spot intersperses the film freeze technique (used in the film The Matrix), with live action to ‘let the idea of the advertising come out of the game, trying to find the meaning that comes out of the benefit of playing the game,’ says Brett Howlett, G-Whiz!’s VP and creative director of the 15-second spot (expandable to 30 seconds).
Howlett says G-Whiz! wanted to show all the different facets of the game-the role-playing, the adventure and the fighting aspects.
The Granny Basher ad, aimed at male gamers ages 25 and under, is based on the company’s research that shows 80% to 90% of all gamers are males between 12 and 25.
And G-Whiz! is definitely doing the trendy teen anti-sell for the Nintendo 64 title.
‘The one thing [focus groups] automatically say when we talk about advertising is `We hate it when they try to sell to us,” says Douglas Zarkin, G-Whiz! VP in charge of branding.
Zarkin says today’s kids are savvy consumers who want to be as entertained by advertising as they are informed. ‘Video game advertising has become very formulaic. You show 15 seconds of [live action] then you cut to your game footage, then you come back to the action. That’s not what we’re doing.’
The ads debut nationally September 6 in prime time, airing throughout the month to coincide with the game’s in-store release. The campaign includes both a TV element and a print element, appearing in the October issues of Rolling Stone and Maxim, as well as several September weeklies. On-line ads will also appear on the Rolling Stone, Maxim and Konami Web sites. Other promotions include visits to U.S. campuses this fall with game kiosks, where teens can try out the product. G-Whiz! is also in discussions with Maxracks and Tower Records for an interactive sticker project featuring kiosks displaying postcards, stickers and TV screens, on which enthusiasts can watch the commercial.