Left 4 Dead’s $10M Ad Campaign
Half-Life house Valve Software is counting on a horde of living dead and tight co-op play to rake in the cash this holiday season with the horror shooter Left 4 Dead.
But the studio is trying to leave as little to chance as possible, as the firm told Edge exclusively on Thursday it will be spending $10 million (£5.9m) on a consumer campaign that will incorporate television, online, print and outdoor advertising across the country. The game is slated to ship on November 17 on Xbox 360 and PC.
"People had really strong reactions to Left 4 Dead when we started showing it," said Valve managing director Gabe Newell in an interview. "Our pre-orders are running 60 percent ahead of Orange Box. This in combination with the fact that it is a new IP made us think that an extensive marketing program made a lot of sense."
About half of the campaign’s dollars will go towards television advertising. Valve has secured 30-second "high impact, premium placement" spots during USC, Notre Dame, Monday Night and Thanksgiving football broadcasts.
A Valve presentation said the commercials will mix humor and horror and will air November 9 through 28 on ABC, ESPN, Fox, MTV, Comedy Central, USA, Spike TV and other networks.
The studio also plans on substantial spending for environmental ads that involve billboards, buses, train station takeovers, jumbotrons, Go Mobile trucks and other venues.
Valve said it will "saturate" New York, Chicago, Boston, Seattle, Los Angeles and San Francisco with the outdoor ads, along with key placements in Minneapolis and Dallas, peaking throughout the month of November.
"We looked at the media mixes that various games have used for the last three years and used that to help us make decisions about how to allocate the dollars," Newell said.
The studio also took into consideration the snags that Take-Two ran into with environmental advertising of its mature-themed Grand Theft Auto IV. Some cities objected to GTA IV’s outdoor advertising and ordered it removed.
Left 4 Dead’s ads not only promote an adult-targeted horror title, but also feature a disfigured hand that the average soccer mom might find distasteful.
Newell explained, "…We had to work with other areas like Orange County, Seattle, and Boston. We spent a bunch of time looking for the best way to do environmental in those markets."
Valve will also spend $1 million for ads on core and enthusiast online gaming and horror film sites from now through December 5.
In addition, the firm has bought ads in print magazines ranging from Official Xbox Magazine to Playboy.
Newell also confirmed an Xbox 360 and PC Left 4 Dead demo. He added that the demo would release in early November, be playable by 1-4 players and will come from the game’s "No Mercy" campaign.
To top it all off there is a 10 percent off pre-order incentive for the game, which Valve said is publisher EA’s #1 Xbox 360 title for this holiday.
Asked if the horror shooter will live up to the sales of previous Valve franchises, Newell was cautiously optimistic. "Well, Left 4 Dead has a long way to go to beat Half-Life and Counter-Strike, but our fans’ excitement when they play the game has certainly infected us. It will be a top five title for the year, but beyond that we’ll have to see how big it gets."