MIDWAY WILL LINK BRAND WITH ITS ARCADE PAST COMMON THEME FOR VIDEOGAMES AIMS TO HELP BREAK OUT OF PACK

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Midway Entertainment, marketer of such videogames as Mortal Kombat, is working with DDB Needham Worldwide, Dallas, to devise a branding strategy based on its arcade heritage.

The move would link most, if not all, of Midway's titles under a common theme for the first time. The goal is to help the marketer differentiate its products in the highly competitive, $5.5 billion videogame industry at a time when the market is flooded with look-alike games.

`MORE BRANDING'

"We are strategizing a positioning for the Midway name with our agency, and I think you're going to see more branding of Midway going forward," said Paula Cook, Midway director of marketing.

Ms. Cook said the positioning would be built on Midway's ability to replicate on home platforms-such as personal computers, Nintendo 64 and Sony PlayStation- the experience of its arcade games, notably Mortal Kombat.

Midway's biggest marketing campaigns this year support two arcade-inspired games, Mortal Kombat IV and NFL Blitz.

The TV portion of a $5 million ad push for Mortal Kombat IV was launched yesterday during Turner Network Television's showing of "Mortal Kombat: Annihilation," the second movie inspired by the property. The spots won't air again until June 22, a day before the game hits retail, when they begin a three-week run on cable TV.

Midway is teaming exclusively with Electronic Boutique to offer a "Mortal Kombat" comic book, published by WildStorm Comics, to consumers who pre-order the game.

$10 MIL FOR NFL BLITZ

The company's largest media outlay to date will benefit the fall launch of NFL Blitz, Midway's first major foray into the hotly competitive niche of sports videogames. Midway will spend $7 million to $10 million on media.

Creative will feature Pittsburgh Steelers star Kordell Stewart and the tagline, "No rest, no rules, no mercy."

"We like to call it `the NFL on acid,'*" joked Ms. Cook. "Every time we push the envelope on this, the NFL reins us in."

Midway will buy time on cable programming, including Comedy Central's "South Park." The pop-culture sensation has become a key media vehicle for Midway, given its concentration of 18-to-25-year-old males.

The game marketer is also finalizing promotional alliances with NFL sponsors Quaker Oats Co.'s Gatorade and Procter & Gamble Co.'s Pringles.

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