Joe Culley

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Sega of america found itself in the unenviable position of needing to regain gamers' trust with the fall 1999 launch of the Dreamcast videogame system. Sega knew it needed to make a bold comeback to lure gamers back into the fold.

Last September, the company blasted its way back onto gamers' radar screens, launching Dreamcast on MTV's "Video Music Awards" broadcast. The launch, part of a $150 million marketing campaign, also established MTV as an important media partner for Sega.

The relationship, headed by 41-year-old Joe Culley, Sega's VP-marketing, continues to evolve and grow. The partnership is so significant that Sega partnered once again with MTV to launch SegaNet, the company's new high-speed multiplayer online gaming network, on Sept. 7 during the MTV awards broadcast.

Ulala, the sexy anchor of Sega's popular Space Channel 5 game, helped promote the best dance video category. A week before the event, she did on-air promotions for the segment.

The MTV relationship "is a media commitment that began with Space Channel 5 and Dreamcast promotion," Mr. Culley says, adding, "[Now] we want to look at how we can bring different Sega launches into the relationship."

For example, Sega music sponsorships such as "Ozzfest," and its game titles like Jet Grind Radio and Jurassic 5 that feature original music tracks, afford offline and online opportunities for both companies.

Exposure for the Dreamcast system on MTV and its properties such as "The Real World" mesh nicely with Sega's 17-to-24 demographic. In May, Sega's Dreamcast and NBA 2K1 title appeared on the "MTV Jams" set during the NBA playoffs.

"The opportunities to be associated with their properties and these kind of co-marketing activities are great," Mr. Culley says.

The music video awards broadcast alone brings Sega a lot of buzz. "Last year, it was the highest-rated show in cable history," says Brian Colbert, manager of marketing for MTV, adding, "It gave [Sega] huge buzz and awareness."

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