3dfx adds humor to equation in PC product ads

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The premise of 3dfx Interactive's new TV campaign is "ridiculous"--a message it hopes will hit home with PC gamers who could use 3D technologies.

3dfx this month broke its first brand campaign, preparing to spend $10 million this year on an edgy cable and network TV, print and online campaign from Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco. That will be supported by a $10 million promotion and in-store effort.


The three TV spots, in 30- and 60-second versions, begin as a tongue-in-cheek spoof of a corporate spot about a technology company committed to saving the world.

3dfx's chip technology could lead to "clean air, pure water and a new future," says a smiling worker in one spot. "We are most proud knowing that we are doing our part to help save the planet."

The worker is interrupted by the intercom: "Ah, everybody, we're going to forget the environment stuff and use the chip for computer games. Back to work."

The spot cuts to shoot-'em-up videogames enhanced by 3dfx's product, a line of graphics-accelerator boards that plug into PCs.

The tagline: "So powerful, it's kind of ridiculous."

Ads talk about the 3dfx chip's ability to manage "100 billion operations per second"--a big number 3dfx hopes will convey the power of the technology.

"Once people experience the technology they are very excited about it, [but] talking about it or showing it is very difficult," said Jim Wallace, director of marketing.


Since 1995, 3dfx has licensed its Voodoo 3D technology to other companies, but it's now refocusing on the dual strategies of selling its technology to PC makers and, starting early next quarter, launching its own line of retail products.

Through the campaign, 3dfx hopes to get consumers to seek out the 3dfx feature in new PCs and to buy the add-on line for existing PCs. 3dfx's add-on graphics accelerators will be priced at $129 to $249.

Copyright March 1999, Crain Communications Inc.

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