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Imagine: Marketing

Mark Slaughter and Rachel Grant explain how Ubisoft brings its girl-game brand to the masses

Following the first part of our look at Ubisoft's incredibly successful Imagine range of games for girls, in which Games For Everyone boss Mark Slaughter looked at the origins of the brand and how it's evolved, in the concluding part he's joined by kids' games brand manager Rachel Grant to explain how the titles are marketed.

Specifically they discuss the importance of pulling the diversity of the range together, and talk about how they're using key TV properties to promote interaction with their target audience.

GamesIndustry.biz With all the noise around Nintendo platform releases towards the end of last year, did you notice a dip in Imagine sales, or did the marketing spend and retailer relationships get it through okay?
Mark Slaughter

I think it did at Christmas, but I think we face similar challenges again this year, because of the way the DS market is declining - and things change over the period of a year.

What we did last year was set out our stall quite early, we shared with retailers exactly what we were going to do and showed them our level of investment, and our plan. They got behind it, and the momentum then - from advertising through to retail support - really delivered strong sales in the last five or six weeks of the year.

I think we sold 300,000 units in the last four weeks of 2008, and I think that was the evolution of all of the different factors - strong selling, a strong retail team, strong backing and significant marketing spends with Fearne, Holly and the X-Factor.

And strong titles - we had eight or nine releases as well, so it all built to a critical mass. At a time when parents were buying presents for their kids, it was top of mind.

GamesIndustry.biz When you say the DS market is in decline, what do you mean?
Mark Slaughter

I mean the DS market from last year to this year, in terms of software sales. Last year we were up, I can't remember the exact percentage.

GamesIndustry.biz That's for everybody, overall?
Mark Slaughter

Yes, overall, for everybody... but there is a decline in the DS market in its entirety. So instead of that being a growing market, within Ubisoft we have to find out how much of that pie we can actually defend.

It's our objective this year to actually maintain market share.

GamesIndustry.biz Many people will point to the economy as a prime reason for people spending less - is that also true for the Imagine range, do you think?
Mark Slaughter

Yes, it's a similar element. Pricing is very important, and where people may have been buying two or three games last year, this year they may only be buying one. The average purchasing is going down.

There is still a massive installed base, so the market is still there - but I think you've got to be clever about what part of that market you're taking. We're still forecasting big numbers this year for Imagine.

GamesIndustry.biz We're coming up to another busy time for game sales, and much has been said about the logic of competing with the Modern Warfare's of this world - but do those games really affect Imagine range sales?
Mark Slaughter

No, I think the market's so diverse that there are completely different shoppers. The element is space in-store, that's really important, and that can be affected.

Rachel Grant

Obviously Christmas is a busy time, but for other titles it's not really a competitive product.

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