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Wizards mines players for new blood

Following the success of this summer's Pokémon mall tour, Seattle, Washington-based Wizards of the Coast is looking to launch a similar tour for flagship trading card game Magic: The Gathering next summer. Marketing director Casey Keniger says it's all part of...
December 1, 1999

Following the success of this summer’s Pokémon mall tour, Seattle, Washington-based Wizards of the Coast is looking to launch a similar tour for flagship trading card game Magic: The Gathering next summer. Marketing director Casey Keniger says it’s all part of an extensive promotional strategy designed to enlist new players and build ties with the existing fan base.

This strategy includes plans to create an on-line community for players by next May, a recently-launched ‘Magic Guru’ recruiting program, a new ‘Create-a-Creature’ promotion and an extensive tournament structure with both pro and amateur levels.

Keniger says the on-line community is currently in development with plans to include interactive sessions with the game’s designers and a forum for players to connect with new opponents and trade strategies. It will be accessed through www.wizards.com.

The Guru recruiting program, launched in September, rewards experienced players with Magic merchandise for every novice they bring into the fold. Gurus can register via the Web site or at game fairs such as Gen Com. Keniger says she is currently working on completely automating the system using the Wizards Web site. The program, which will run indefinitely, has already surpassed expectations with 20,000 Gurus signing up during the first four weeks alone.

Create-a-Creature, launched last October, is another on-line initiative designed to strengthen ties with players. Aimed at the lower end of the 12- to 17-year-old male demographic targeted by the game, the promo encourages tweens to create and describe a new Magic creature. The top ten entries will be drawn up by artists and posted on the Web site in January, allowing players to vote on their fave for the grand prize. The winning creature will be added to the game and the designer wins a trip to Wrestlemania 2000 in April. Keniger says the contest is well on its way to achieving 10,000 entries with submissions coming in at the rate of about 350 to 400 a day.

Wizards will continue to support its promotions with irreverent TV, print and radio advertising. A new campaign is slated to hit screens next July or August with hot West Coast agency WongDoody continuing to handle creative.

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