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This is Sega's $100 million marketing plan that failed to save the Dreamcast

This is Sega's $100 million marketing plan that failed to save the Dreamcast

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The following press release from E3 1999 explains, in depressing detail, Sega's strategy for marketing the Sega Dreamcast to a world that would ultimately welcome it with cool indifference, leaving arguably the first modern video game console to slowly die on the side of the video game highway.

The entire press release is posted below, because its quite something, with the most fascinating parts bolded for those short on time. This is TL;DR, after all.

LOS ANGELES--May 12, 1999--Sega(R) of America today announced further details surrounding their $100 million marketing campaign for the much-anticipated Sega Dreamcast(TM), "the ultimate gaming machine."

Prepping for the biggest videogame launch the industry has ever seen, Sega is armed with an arsenal of far-reaching marketing elements ranging from an expansive print and broadcast advertising campaign; to promotions with Pepsi; to full sponsorship of the "SuperBowl" of the young adult demographic -- the 1999 MTV Video Music Awards.

At launch on 9-9-99, consumers won't be able to go about everyday life without thinking about or seeing Sega Dreamcast. This kick ass marketing campaign will ensure for a blitz before, during and beyond launch, the likes of which the videogame industry has never seen.

The marketing campaign for Sega Dreamcast is aimed to hit the enthusiastic nerve of hard core gamers. Knowing that the die hard gaming community is the heart of their business, Sega is 100% dedicated to this consumer with marketing, events, promotions, but most importantly -- the hardware and games that will get consumers excited about Sega Dreamcast.

"Sega has been in this industry for more than 40 years and the company has deep roots and history with the gaming consumer," said Peter Moore, senior vice president of marketing, Sega of America. "We are committed to this audience and can't wait to show them the face of the 'new Sega' this year through our ads, promotions, events and activities that touch them directly."

The introduction of Sega Dreamcast will encompass all parts of the target consumer's life through unforgettable advertising, sales promotions, event marketing and retail merchandising. The campaign will focus not only on the emotional, visceral experience one gets from Sega Dreamcast games, but also on the hardware and the ways it is setting the benchmark for videogames.


Created by Foote, Cone and Belding, San Francisco, the first stage of Sega's print ads will have a cryptic feel, focusing solely around Sega Dreamcast's signature swirl logo. Consumers will see the swirl popping up in various natural, organic places, giving them the feeling that something living, breathing and big is coming. These ads will be featured in the gaming publications through June. The cryptic phase will be followed by four other stages of ads for pre-launch, launch, holidays and in Winter 2000 -- a critical software selling period.

Sega's television advertising campaign will kick-off in July of this year and run through March 2000. Six innovative television spots are being created by Pacific Data Images, the same company that created images for the movie "Antz." Look for Sega Dreamcast television ads on the WB Network, prime time television, sports-related programming and other stations tying into Sega's key demographic.

Worth noting, Sega Dreamcast will have 950 television spots on MTV alone from July through March 2000, buys on ESPN and Monday Night Wrestling. With an impressive media buy, Sega Dreamcast will be everywhere, as consumers watch television come this summer.

But the ads don't stop with traditional media. Sega, in a partnership with Pepsi, will sponsor "Hot Topics" (advetorials), which focus on cool happenings in movies and pop culture. These two pieces will run before movie trailers from June -- August on more than 11,000 screens across the country. These spots will be tied-in with the new Arnold Schwarzenegger movie trailers and will hit when the highly anticipated "Star Wars" and other hit summer movies are running nationwide.

1999 MTV Video Music Awards

On 9-9-99, the same day that Sega Dreamcast is launching, Sega will be a full sponsor of the 1999 MTV Video Music Awards show, airing live that evening to an audience of approximately 22 million. Considered the "SuperBowl" of the young adult demographic, the MTV Video Music Awards typically play to an audience of young men and women aged 12-24 -- which makes this an ideal marketing marriage between the two companies.

Sega will show six advertisements both before and during the 1999 MTV Video Music Awards featuring Sega Dreamcast. The system will also be featured at the awards show post-party. In celebration of the launch, Sega will be conducting local market consumer promotions in which consumers can win trips to the 1999 MTV Video Music Awards.


Key to the marketing program for Sega Dreamcast are promotional opportunities with mass market vehicles. Sega is continuing to line up large-scale consumer promotions which partner Sega Dreamcast with a host of products specifically targeted towards people in the mid-teen to mid-20s market.

Product Placement

Sega is currently conducting a "celebrity and sport celebrity seeding" program for Sega Dreamcast to ensure that "everybody that's anybody" has a Sega Dreamcast. In addition, there is also a seeding program already underway that will place Sega Dreamcast on the hottest shows, movies and music events.

Up top is an example of Sega's advertisements from the European marketing push. Unfortunately, I'm failing to find footage from that 1999 VMAs. Perhaps that's better for the planet.