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Square Enix Hits Comic-Con Bullseye

To promote the newest installment of the Tomb Raider video game franchise, and tap into the recent archery craze, publisher Square Enix and developer Crystal Dynamics deployed a 10-foot by 40-foot archery range at the 2012 New York Comic-Con from Oct. 11 to 14. The activation gives attendees an insider’s look at the art and science of archery, a key skill in the new Tomb Raider. The Tomb Raider Archery Experience was located in the high-traffic North Pavilion Walkway at the Jacob Javits Convention Center between the main Comic-Con show and Artist’s Alley. It consisted of an equipment and training area and two 30-foot-long ranges.

“Archery has become super popular in the last few years,” Mark Turosz, senior product manager at Square Enix, told Buzz. “There was a fun factor because of that and because the bows were pretty high-velocity. People really had fun.”

The outside of the footprint was dressed with live foliage, Tomb Raider branding, and 42-inch flat panel screens so the spectators and people in line could watch the shooting. For the folks waiting upwards of 30 minutes to shoot, the brand deployed ambassadors to take photos and create digital IDs casting the attendees as members of the crew of the Endurance, the ship that brings Laura Croft (the star of the game) to the island where the game takes place. The photos were branded and sharable across social media.

Once they got inside the experience, the brand kept the action safe by using blunted arrows and partnering with instructors from the New Jersey School of Archery to teach everyone how to hold the bow and shoot safely. The instructors gave the consumers a brief introduction to archery basics before helping them strap on safety gear and escorting them into the live range. The two ranges were separated by thick Plexiglas, so the participants could see how their neighbor was doing. Each shooter had three chances at the target in order to hit a bulls-eye and score a limited edition Tomb Raider lithograph. Win or lose, each of them got to keep their individual target as a souvenir to show off their archery skills. The grand prize wasn’t a sure thing, either. Of the 1,365 people who took a shot, only 92 got a lithograph. One key goal of the experience was to drive pre-orders, so the brand had iPads on hand, and instructions for individuals to pre-order on their mobile devices. Everyone who did got a limited edition Tomb Raider t-shirt. The brand logged 238 preorders on the iPad, but said several hundred more consumers did so on their own phones.

“What we were trying to accomplish with the game was a sense of reality, so bringing this experience to life at Comic-Con really helped people get into the experience how difficult it is to fire a bow,” Karl Stewart, global brand director at Crystal Dynamics, told Buzz. “We’re all about experience and this is a great example of bringing the game to life.” Agency: AWESTRUCK Marketing Group, New York City.

For an inside look, check out the video at http://youtu.be/N4tUhbmJqAo and the photo gallery.

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