2K Games: CMO and Campaigns

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2K Games: CMO and Campaigns

This research provides information about Melissa Bell, including what she has been up to in her tenure at 2K Games, as well as her past tenure at Infiniti Motors. Recent campaigns, product launches, and promotional programs initiated in the past two years by 2K Games have also been presented in this brief. While at 2k Games, Melissa Bell has expanded the Civilization VI video game series and partnered with Women in Games to support women in the game industry. Notable campaigns and programs launched by 2K Games include 'Everyone's On', 'They Will Know Your Name', NBA 2K20 Global Championship, and NBA 2K20 x Nike Gamer Exclusive Program.


Melissa Bell's Focus at 2K Games

Expansion of Civilization VI:
  • In her tenure at 2k Games, Melissa Bell (SVP and Head of Global Marketing at 2K) expanded the Civilization video game series. To mark the video game's 27th anniversary, she confirmed that the new version (Civilization VI: Gathering Storm) would be available for Windows PC on February 14, 2019.
  • In Bell's words: “As Sid Meier’s Civilization approaches its 27th anniversary, 2K is honored to unveil Civilization VI’s second robust expansion, inviting fans to explore and master the franchise’s rich and strategic gameplay in all-new ways with Civilization VI: Gathering Storm.”
  • She went further to reveal that this expansion had exceeded expectations. In her words: “Once again, the team at Firaxis has exceeded expectations to evolve Civilization’s features with the largest expansion ever developed for the series.”
  • In September last year, it was also announced that the Civilization VI would be available for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on November 22, 2019.
Improving Diversity of Hiring:
  • Under Melissa Bell's leadership, 2K Games and its subsidiary (Hangar 13) partnered with Women in Games to encourage a more proactively inclusive and diverse hiring policy in the game industry. The partnership aimed to connect publishers and developers to talented and diverse people.
  • According to Bell: “Women in Games is a fantastic organization that’s been instrumental in supporting diversity in the games industry for nearly 10 years. We hope this partnership leads to more women joining the development and marketing teams at 2K and Hangar 13, but our goal is to support women in the industry at large.”

Melissa Bell's Focus at Infiniti Motors

Generating Engagement With Consumers:
  • While at Infiniti Motors, Bell focused on launching campaigns that would inspire and improve engagement with consumers. She collaborated with several local partners and influencers to build the company's image and increase relevance.
  • The following quotes reveal her thoughts and focus in terms of branding while at Infiniti Motors:
    • “Advertising in the field used to be product-focused, but when we look at the progressive change, automotive consumers are very much looking to understand the brand they are buying into.”
    • “It [digital] is a new space where we need to build relationships with the consumers. It is a field that is highly dramatic and moving fast, and we as well need to drive fast.”
    • “They [consumers] are getting more conscious about how human the automotive brand is, which means we have to be greatly engaging and authentic. I believe this is the right way to head.”
Focus on the American Market:
  • In an interview with Campaign, Bell revealed that her primary focus was on the United States market. While Infiniti is headquartered in Hong Kong, Melissa Bell saw it as an international brand with a niche market in the US.
  • Outside the US, Infiniti's marketing efforts were also targeted at China, Canada, Western Europe, the Middle East, Mexico, and South Korea. According to Bell, these markets were selected based on the opportunities they provide for the Infiniti brand.
  • At the time (2016), Melissa Bell stated that China was "not yet the world’s biggest premium automotive market, but at some point in the future it most likely will be."
Transforming Infiniti from a ‘House of Brands’ into a ‘Branded House’:
  • According to Bell, when she joined Infiniti as a senior director of global marketing, the company did not have a clear positioning. Infiniti was inconsistent and therefore "meant different things in different markets," she said.
  • In her words: "so what I focused on was developing the global brand positioning. I wanted us to be a ‘branded house’ rather than a ‘house of brands’. The company had been about individual products rather than the Infiniti brand."
  • The director of global marketing revealed that she focused on a marketing approach that was more social-oriented and ensured that their creative work in different markets was consistent.
  • In her words: "It’s been a case of defining what we want Infiniti to be and delivering that in a consistent manner."


'Everyone's On'

  • In 2018, NBA 2K launched a data-driven campaign to showcase the magnitude of the basketball game and sport's reach. The 'Everyone's On' campaign was supported by BSSP (the creative agency for NBA 2K19).
  • It was launched on several channels including digital banners, out-of-home, social, and video to highlight important figures such as the total number of three-pointers made and the number of times Michael Jordan defeats LeBron James every day.
  • According to Matthew Curry, the chief creative at BSSP, by combining data that was most culturally and contextually relevant, they could use such data to create unexpected headlines. This inspired them to work with their media team to find out where to locate their out-of-home placements in order to "write for maximum location-specific impact".
  • Notable headlines that were used in this campaign include the following: 'The Knicks beat the Celtics 23,344 times last night,' and 'The Lakers have won 291,342 championships this year.'

'They Will Know Your Name'

  • Between June 5 to June 19, 2018, 2K Games used mobile-optimized Instagram and Facebook video ads to announce that LeBron James would be its cover athlete. This was done before the launch of NBA 2K19. The ads were targeted to both prospective and core audience segments.
  • 2K Games was looking for a way "to reach more core NBA 2K gamers — as well as new console gaming customers — and increase awareness, anticipation and online pre-sales of the 20th anniversary edition, NBA 2K19."
  • This campaign was displayed with an inspirational theme: “They Will Know Your Name”. It also featured grainy TV footage of the basketball star — LeBron James — throughout the years. In the footage the names LeBron James has acquired over the years were also displayed, including GOAT (Greatest Of All Time) and King James. A link to the NBA 2K website was also included so that people could click and pre-order.
  • Through this campaign, 2K Games reached 10.7 million people, achieved an ad recall lift of 24-points, an 11-point lift in its message association, and a 7-point lift in the game's purchase intent.

NBA 2K20 Global Championship

  • On September 17, 2019, 2K Games announced its partnership with the National Basketball Association (NBA), ESL, and National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) to create the NBA 2K20 Global Championship.
  • This unique tournament which doubles as a publicity campaign features more than $100,000 in prizes. It is described as "a new competitive tournament designed for aspiring NBA 2K20 players worldwide." 2K revealed that the global tournament would feature a head-to-head competition in a series of offline and online events that were scheduled to hold from October 2019 to February 2020.
  • At the final event in the United States, 2K would then "crown the first-ever NBA 2K20 global champion." This tournament also has regional finals where each winner receives $15,000, including other prizes from 2K and NBA. The Global Finals are scheduled to hold on February 22, 2020.

NBA 2K20 x Nike Gamer Exclusive Program

  • Last year, 2K in partnership with Nike, announced the NBA 2K20 x Nike Gamer Exclusive Program. This promotional program was launched as a first-of-its-kind sneaker and gaming partnership. It was launched alongside the NBA season tip-off and 2K's MyPLAYER Nation mode, on October 22, 2019.
  • Through this program, NBA 2K20 players had the opportunity of earning "up to 10 pairs of soon-to-be-released virtual Nike Basketball signature shoes for their MyPLAYER by completing in-game challenges and the chance to purchase the real-life version of the limited-edition shoes from Nike."
  • According to Eric Wood, vice president of digital partnerships at Nike, the Nike Basketball Gamer Exclusive program is an innovative and natural extension of Nike's partnership with NBA 2K.
  • Eric Wood added that by enabling NBA 2K gamers to connect their membership platforms, they unlock a new way for gamers who live the game physically and virtually to earn access to a nice range of exclusive Nike products.
  • For this program, Nike Gamer Exclusive Sneakers were only available for players that completed Gamer Exclusive challenges in NBA 2K20 on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, or Nintendo Switch.