Pox: Matt Collins

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"We're looking to enhance the communal experience," Hasbro Games Marketing Director Matt Collins says in describing the arrival of the marketer's game Pox.

The hand-held wireless game unit was the subject of a rapidly expanding viral marketing campaign by Hasbro this past summer. More than 18,000 hand-held units were distributed in the Chicago area, then were rolled out to a number of other U.S. cities over the summer. Hasbro is hoping the game becomes a national craze by the all-important holiday shopping season.

Pox allows kids to build their own "alien viruses," and either play alone or one-on-one with another player via radio frequency. When left on, the Pox unit can detect other units within 30 feet, and automatically strike up a contest-even with complete strangers.

The marketing effort in Chicago consisted of identifying 1,700 9-to-12 year-old "Pox Agents" who were each given 11 Pox units; they in turn gave away 10 of the games to their friends. Chicago was chosen because it's the largest market for videogame hardware and hand-held electronic game purchases in the U.S., Mr. Collins says. He expects kids could strike up engagements while walking the streets, riding buses or hanging out in shopping centers.

Mr. Collins, 39, arrived at Hasbro in 1994 as an associate product manager, from director of advertising and promotions for the college bookstore division of Follett Corp.

TV, radio and outdoor advertising; skateboard stickers; and print ads in select DC Comics titles have run, all from Grey Global Group's Grey Worldwide, New York. National TV for the $24.99 Pox units should break for the holidays.

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