Comcast sets deals for gaming awards

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Comcast's G4techTV cable network has lined up some heavyweight marketing partners for its video-game awards show in August and the dozens of hours of programming leading up to it.

News Corp.'s Fox TV network, Viacom's Paramount Pictures, DaimlerChrysler's Jeep, PepsiCo.'s Mountain Dew, Cingular Wireless and retailer EB Games will be integrated into the show, called G-Phoria, as well as related summer programming and online promotions.

"They really wanted to engage in the show, rather than just having billboards running on our air," said Lauren de la Fuente, VP-strategic programming and media marketing for the network.

The pacts reflect the interest in, and influence of, the consumer segment known as gamers. Exposure for the marketing partners will span three months of programming, from nomination specials to behind-the-scenes wrap-up coverage, and will include heavy cross-promotions between sponsors.

G-Phoria, an awards show with a rave-like atmosphere, hasn't named a host or musical acts. Last year, Public Enemy and Flock of Seagulls performed, and a host of young Hollywood celebrities such as Elijah Wood turned out.

`irreverent'

"It's an awards show turned on its head," said Paul Koulogeorge, VP-marketing at West Chester, Pa.-based EB Games. "It's done in an irreverent, passionate way that so fits the video-game consumer."

Mountain Dew, a longtime partner of the network, will send its sponsored athletes to present a branded award for the best "alt sports" video game and give away Dew vending machines to winners. The marketer created a consumer sweepstakes for "the ultimate video-game setup," and will hype the association through its Web site and TV spots.

Cingular Wireless, along with a branded award, will sprinkle its camera phones in the audience and post the photos during the event on its Web site. The marketer will also poll viewers and post the tallies live.

Omnicom Group's BBDO, New York, handles creative for both Mountain Dew and Cingular.

Fox TV, promoting its "Method & Red" sitcom, linked with EB Games for an in-store contest that will send winners to G-Phoria to meet the hip-hop stars, who will give out the EB Gamers Choice award. There will be posters and sweepstakes info in 1,600 EB stores starting this week. Consumers will be able to vote on G-Phoria awards at EB stores and online through ebgames.com.

"We view these awards long term," Mr. Koulogeorge said. "They're like the Academy Awards for movies and the Emmys for TV."

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