Return to Viral Hall of Fame 2008 Home Page
Viral Hall of Fame 2008

Viral Hall of Fame 2008
Frontlines: Fuel of War

MarketingSherpa Summary:
Looking to promote a new video game, THQ launched this campaign using a microsite, contest and social media. Participants' chances to win increased with the number of friends they recruited to enter. PPC promotion mixed with some "shoe leather" work at a gaming conference helped to bring this campaign 70% more registered contestants than hoped for.

Agency: Red Bricks Media
Client/company: THQ
Brand campaign was conducted for: Frontlines: Fuel of War
Launch date of campaign: September 2007
Target audience/demographic: Gamers age 13 years and older; third-party press and bloggers

Campaign Goal:
The primary goal was to generate awareness about the release of Frontlines: Fuel of War among hardcore gamers, who were to drive word-of-mouth evangelism. The secondary goal was to generate at least 5,000 signups for the Countdown to War contest, gathering leads and fostering serious brand engagement among hardcore fans.

Frontlines: Fuel of War presents a future-war scenario where the last of the world's oil is at stake in a massive cold war-style conflict. The game tied in to current events and issues, such as fuel shortages, record gas prices and rising tensions among key oil producing and consuming nations. It involved a compelling and edgy narrative.

Red Bricks Media created a microsite, contest and strong Web presence across social media. Techniques included edgy conspiratorial creative, an online scavenger hunt, and a narrative leveraging the game's premise (a world war over oil).

The deal was sweetened to make the microsite sticky with a contest. The winner's reward was fighter pilot training at Air Combat USA. The viral clincher? Participants' chances to win increased every time they invited friends to join their in-game hacker networks. The primary metric was contest signups and referrals. Secondary metrics measured viral activity and brand awareness for the new Frontlines: Fuel of War franchise. These metrics included microsite page views, video views, blog views, third-party blog postings, Facebook friendships and press release reads.

Seed Strategy:
• Phase 1: Seeding with Pay-Per-Click and a splash page
Beginning with PPC, awareness was raised about the new Frontlines: Fuel of War and the Countdown to War contest before initiating buzz strategies. Microsite visitors were given a taste of the contest and invited to enter their email address to receive notice when the contest began.

• Phase 2: Full microsite and contest launch
Red Bricks launched the campaign microsite and kicked off the contest with an email blast to the early comers who had signed up on the splash page.

• Phase 3: Develop a diverse Web presence
As the contest launched, Frontlines' presence on prominent social media channels, such as Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, Wikipedia, Digg, WordPress and others was launched. This diverse Web presence was done primarily to drive awareness, but it also provided some conversions (in the form of contest signups).

• Phase 4: Reach out to influencers
Influencers were contacted - primarily video game bloggers and Facebook group leaders. Through this outreach, a relationship was developed with a popular blog that provided a significant boost in traffic to the microsite.

• Phase 5: Guerilla marketing at CES 2008
Guerilla tactics were employed at an offline event, the 2008 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), to further boost traffic and encourage signups among our target audience. A street team delivered thousands of handouts to CES 2008 attendees. The handouts explained the narrative behind the campaign and directed recipients to the microsite to sign up for the contest. Recognizing the importance of strong incentives, efforts were supplemented with free Frontlines: Fuel of War T-shirts, hats and demos.

Buzz Generated:
• Blog coverage
Outreach yielded relationships with influential bloggers, resulting in several third-party news postings and promotions. On one occasion, a popular gaming publisher sought out THQ to leverage the success of the viral campaign for an exclusive contest aimed at their members. A side mission was created in collaboration with and a weeklong "takeover" of popular gaming blog took place. These posts have all been removed since the contest ended.

• Guerilla marketing
The CES presence, both traffic and conversions, on the first day of the conference provided an exponential lift of 48% and 44%, respectively. During the week of the conference, a majority of visitors came from direct traffic sources, such as

• Social media:
The blog received 22,500 page views, and consistently drove traffic as well as Frontlines brand awareness. The most popular YouTube video received 50,700 views.

Specific (Goal-Related) Campaign Results:
Campaign results revealed that a deeper dependence on display advertising through the contextual search network was a natural progression. It was discovered that a vast majority of users were more willing to engage through rich, interactive mediums (i.e. display or video ads) than through search queries-meaning that trusted publishers played a significant role in their decision-making process. The figures below show the results built over time as the most effective ways of reaching out to the target audience were zeroed in on.
  • PPC: 6,425 total conversions, 9.59% conversion rate, final CPA of $2.35
  • WordPress blog: 20,097 reads, 12.9% conversion rate
  • side mission: 905 microsite visits, 17% conversion rate
  • side mission: 750 visits, 11% conversion rate
  • Social Media
    - WordPress blog views: 22,500
    - Video: 60,257 total video views, 204 comments
  • Guerilla: Traffic up 48% and conversions up 44% during the first day of CES 2008
Red Bricks Media far surpassed the campaign objective of 5,000 registered conversions through paid search alone. By the end of the campaign, more than 8,500 conversions were made and the CPA was reduced to $3.

The campaign also performed well at the Addys, winning silver awards at the district and regional levels and going on to nationals.

Biggest Lesson:
We were surprised by the enormous traffic spike that our presence at CES 2008 provided. As online marketers, we are always prejudiced toward the Web. This experience taught us that being in the right place at the right time with the right T-shirt can pay huge dividends.