G4 Hunts for Awareness With Croft Campaign


Lara Croft of Tomb Raider
video game and movie fame adds another facet to her identity this week, when G4 launches a new campaign that puts the animated archeologist front and center.

The brainchild of game publisher Eidos Interactive will appear in three 30-second spots running throughout G4's schedule until late July. In one month, the promos will also appear on other services, including MTV: Music Television, ESPN and Comedy Central, as well as on systems owned by Comcast Corp., Insight Communications Inc., Mediacom Communications Corp. and other MSOs.

The spots also will be carried over G4 and Eidos' respective Web locations (www.g4tv.com
www.eidosinteractive.com), as well as national college-distributed TV channel Zilo, available to some 5.3 million students.

It's not the first time Croft has been in this position: Two years ago, she was one of several human and computer-generated notables featured in "I Am Sci Fi," Sci Fi Channel's set of messages.

"Lara is a personality like Julia Roberts and Madonna, bigger than any one game or film," explained Eidos vice president of marketing Paul Baldwin. "She's timely, relevant every year.

"We have very ambitious plans for Lara, and G4 is on the forefront of that in having Lara endorse a network."

G4 — which is entering the back stretch of its first year in nearly 10 million cable and DBS households — is hoping for increased awareness by association.

"This is not your same-old promo situation," said G4 senior vice president of sales and distribution Dale Hopkins. "Croft is a pop-culture icon, an animated character with an agent. We grow two brands at the same time."

Last May, Eidos signed a deal with Creative Artists Agency to represent Croft — the first time a Hollywood talent organization signed up to work on a nonhuman character's behalf.

G4 developed the campaign and brought it to Eidos last August. The $1 million deal involves promotional time and G4's production costs.

Spots were developed in-house and assembled by Modern Cartoons, the animation house responsible for the original Tomb Raider
video game.

In each spot, Croft reveals her outlook on life to "celebrity journalist" Rufus Albright, played by an actor.

"We're exploiting Lara as a flip, funny with attitude being," Hopkins rationalized. "The messages have an edge, which also reflects the groundbreaking nature of our channel."

Both G4 and affiliates will increase the play when The Angel of Darkness, Eidos' new Croft video game, is released in April, and when the sequel to Paramount's Tomb Raider theatrical film, Cradle of Life, comes out this July.

Through CAA, Eidos is exploring appearances for Croft on TNN: The National Network, MTV and others when the new game and film debut. An animated or live-action Croft series is also under discussion, but would need Paramount's approval, Baldwin acknowledged.

Separately, G4 is meeting with CAA on a bigger presence for the character, also in accord with Cradle of Life.