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Oct 04, 2002
Case Study

When Over a Million Play Radio Shack's Online Game, Toy Sales Soar

SUMMARY: When Radio Shack's John Dennie got a chance to partner with Nickelodeon to launch a new toy, he was psyched, but worried. Nickelodeon's movie launch timing meant that Dennie's accompanying campaign had to go out in fourth quarter, which is the hardest time of year to break through the clutter in toy ads.

Hear how Dennie mixed a wide variety of online and offline media (everything from magazine print ads to a Web-based game) to create a campaign so powerful that the toy in question SOLD OUT.

John Dennie, Director of Online Marketing for Radio Shack, jumped at the chance to build brand awareness with children by partnering with Nickelodeon for a holiday promotion surrounding the movie, "Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius."

"We had tried advergaming, and spent a lot of money on online advertising, but we were curious to see how a cross-media promotion might affect sales," explained Dennie. "We wanted to know how much online factors in, in terms of sales."

Timing was not perfect. The promotion had to take place during the fourth quarter to coincide with the movie's release. Radio Shack was not sure how to position the
product during the busiest shopping season, and, typically, the most cluttered time to promote toys.


Working with Carat Interactive, Dennie decided to expand the promotion by combining media never before used in tandem:

* An online game

* Radio, print, and banner ads

* A sweepstakes

==> The Game

With veteran game developers The Groove Alliance, the team developed an online game involving Radio Shack's radio-controlled Jimmy Neutron cars, and Radio Shack batteries. They arranged to host the game both on and at the MSN gaming zone. (See link at end)

The interactive game was framed around 3D-technology scenes from the movie, images of the Radio Shack store, and the red Jimmy Neutron car. "Bringing in an online game enabled children who didn't own the car to virtually experience the car and the benefits," says Julianne Augustine, VP of client services at Carat. "It added to the passion and the desire to own this car."

==> Radio, Print, and Online Ads

Because promoting to children online is of questionable legality under COPPA (the Children's Online Privacy and Protection Act) the team had to look to offline media to
drive the right traffic to the site.

There had to be a variety of ways to streamline their young prospective customers into the game and the sweepstakes without using email addresses (COPPA prohibits asking for email addresses of children under 13).

The team chose to integrate radio, print, and online ads with a series of commercials bought both during prime time and at other times that supported the movie, game and,

The cross-platform marketing also included ads in Nickelodeon Magazine, on-line banner placements, and in-house promotions in Radio Shack's 7002 stores.

==> The Sweepstakes

When customers went to or they were greeted with animated, enriched media promoting the sweepstakes. Clicking "Yes" entered visitors into the sweepstakes. The grand prize was a trip to an amusement park for the winner and seven friends.

By including interactive in the mix, the budget was more flexible. According to Alan Osetek, SVP Carat Interactive, "Part of the beauty of interactive is it gives you the
advantage of quick turn-around. You can look at the results, and gauge whether you want to pour in more money or add additional flights."


Radio Shack completely sold out of the Jimmy Neutron car. "We usually see a seasonal demand for remote-controlled cars, but we didn't expect to completely sell
out," says Dennie.

"We didn't have any benchmarks because it was the first time we did a product-placement game," explains Osetek. "We didn't know if interactive rates would be down because people are so busy during the holidays. And frankly, it all depended on how well the movie did."

Augustine attributes the success to cohesive messaging, and especially to the game. "We could speak directly to the target audience about the benefits of the toy. It was the greatest way to ensure time engaged with the brand."

==> Other results

* The game generated over 1 million plays.

* The average user spent 15 minutes playing.

* The remote-controlled car was a top-selling holiday product in offline and online stores, with 27% higher retail sales of the radio-controlled car than in previous years.


Sample Creative Elements:

RC Stunt Machine Showdown:

The Groove Alliance (creators of the game):
See Also:

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