It’s one of the most highly anticipated video games of the year, so it makes sense that the first major commercial for it is airing during one of the most watched nights in sports. The 2018 NFL season kicked off on NBC’s Thursday Night Football, and Sony Playstation took the opportunity to drop a big game ad for Marvel’s Spider-Man, which launches on September 7. It’s the first game collaboration between Marvel and Sony since the two struck a deal in 2015 to play nice with the iconic character and share its rights, and the brand is treating it like any other blockbuster.
“I can’t remember the last time we bought a 90-second spot, and it’s one of the most expensive media buys for a single spot we’ve ever done,” says Eric Lempel, Sony Playstation’s global head of marketing. “It’ll be something brand new, something our fans haven’t seen before. It brings a few elements together–from the game to our hardware side, to the Playstation store–so internally we’re working across all the marketing verticals to tell a story with this spot.”
Beyond the spot, the brand has been pumping out game-related content, including peeks inside the game, narrated by characters like J. Jonah Jameson, as well as a list of bonus features and prizes as part of its ongoing Countdown to Launch program, in which the company aims to re-create online the excitement and anticipation of old-school, midnight line-ups for brick-and-mortar retail store releases.
Playstation has also been making the most of its creative collaboration with Marvel. Key Marvel comic artists helped design the suits, and in April, artist Alex Ross created a custom cover for Game Informer magazine.
“This really is an event for us, and we’ve launched a lot of big titles,” says Lempel. “This illustrates how we’re going to be getting behind these major titles in an even bigger way. This Spider-Man story is a stand-alone story, it doesn’t tie into the cinematic universe, which presents its own communications challenge. We want fans to know this is a new, unique, original story.”
With great IP comes great marketing responsibility.