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JUNU BRYAN KIM ROBIN HARPER SIM CITY 2000

Published on .

The concept behind Maxis' computer game Sim City 2000 is simple: create a city by building roads and a utility network, levying taxes and zoning regions, among other things.

Not so coincidentally, the marketing goal for Sim City 2000, as defined by VP-Marketing Robin Harper, also was simple: Introduce the game, a high-end line extension of an existing product, without cannibalizing the original product's sales.

"People thought I was nuts" for proposing a two-product marketing plan, says Ms. Harper, 42. But with 12 years of experience selling Clorox 2 bleach and other products at Foote, Cone & Belding, San Francisco, she knew it was possible.

To introduce Sim City 2000, Ms. Harper implemented an integrated marketing campaign, themed "Now Entering Sim City 2000." The plan included pre-release teaser print ads in science and computer magazines last fall, in-store promotions such as a London trip giveaway for those who pre-ordered the game, and a direct-mail campaign to the 225,000 registered owners of the original Sim City game.

The introductory marketing campaign has helped Maxis sell 300,000 copies (and great software reviews didn't hurt).

The plan also helped boost sales of the original game, renamed Sim City Classic, by 50% in the two months after its restaging. Intended for those unfamiliar with Maxis' simulation games line, Sim City Classic got a package redesign, with copy mentioning the game's awards and accolades, and a reduced price-around $25 at retailers.

Not only is Ms. Harper an expert marketer, she says she's a good Sim City player, as are her children.

"My [5th grade] daughter has it in her classroom. There are stories about kids not going outside to recess so they can play with the game," she says.

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