Acclaim pumps up sports games

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Acclaim Entertainment this week launches a $4 million to $6 million marketing push behind its NFL Quarterback Club '98 for the Nintendo 64 platform, marking the debut of its Acclaim Sports brand and its tagline, "Sweat the details."

Acclaim follows by a week Nintendo of America's launch of a $30 million campaign that includes two TV spots supporting sports games for the N64. Both efforts support a crowded marketplace of sports titles, which represents 30% to 40% of the $2 billion-plus videogame market.

Sony Computer Entertainment has been aggressive this fall, pouring on the ad support for a gamut of games, including NFL GameDay '98 and CART World Series, handled by TBWA Chiat/Day, Venice, Calif. In September, sports category leader Electronic Arts launched a $30 million media push from Odiorne Wilde Narraway & Partners, San Francisco, for several of its titles, including Madden NFL '98.

BIGGEST INTRO

Also last month, Sega of America launched a $25 million ad blitz, with three of five spots devoted to sports titles such as NBA Action '98.

NFL Quarterback Club '98 is Acclaim's biggest product introduction in three years. The integrated program is anchored by a TV spot from RDA International, New York, that stars Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre.

The spot will air through Dec. 8 on Fox and NBC NFL broadcasts, as well as on BET, ESPN, ESPN2, MTV and USA Network. The strategy is to reach both hard-core sports fans and teen-age males.

Acclaim is getting a boost from Nintendo, as well, as NFL Quarterback Club '98 is the only football game licensed for the N64 platform. Nintendo has integrated screen shots from the game into its new TV spots from Leo Burnett USA, Chicago, and will feature screen shots on N64 holiday boxes.

Nintendo has an agenda to push in highlighting its sports titles in two of the four 60-second spots that began airing last week.

"We've been rapped for not having great sports games for the N64 so far, but we're changing that this holiday season with new football, hockey, soccer and wrestling games," said George Harrison, Nintendo VP-marketing communications.

DECLARATION OF CHANGE

Acclaim, meanwhile, has been knocked for not having a well-rounded sports program. The launch of the Acclaim Sports sub-brand is the marketer's declaration of change, and a challenge to Electronic Arts, which has its own sub-brand, EA Sports.

"This is a niche where the top two or three do well, but anyone below that tends to lose their shirt," said Acclaim Sports' Director of Marketing Bob Picunko.

Acclaim faces some formidable competition from EA Sports. In addition to its $30 million in media spending, EA Sports will get promotional support for several of its titles from Coca-Cola Co.'s Sprite, General Mills, MasterCard International, Nestle USA, Wal-Mart Stores, Fox Sports Net and Turner Sports.

Copyright October 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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