There are two golden rules in PR: one, don’t become the story. Second, don’t attempt to arm-wrestle Ade ‘The Beast’ Akinfenwa.
Equipped with this advice, why not make a third by combining the two together?
How all these rules came to be broken is all thanks to the launch of EA Sports’ FIFA 15 with our client, GAME. As with all blockbuster releases, hundreds of GAME stores across the UK were primed to open their doors on the stroke of midnight to long queues of eager gamers.
The brief from the client was to drive build excitement in advance of midnight openings and drive footfall on the night. At a number of key GAME stores across the UK gamers could get a selfie and even a game of FIFA with a local footballing idol so there was every reason to ramp up interest.
With everyone desperate to get their hands on a copy of FIFA 15 GAME we approached a very special player on FIFA to do a job for GAME.
We turned to a player who plies his trade for League Two side AFC Wimbledon. Ade ‘The Beast’ Akinfenwa might not have the in-game dribbling or shooting ratings of a Messi or Ronaldo, but out of a database of 16,000 players around the globe Ade, who can bench press 180kg, has a Strength rating of 97 – making him the ‘World’s Strongest Player’.
It’s an accolade that has made him a cult figure among gamers and footie fans from Basingstoke to Beijing. So who better to put in charge of guarding GAME’s FIFA 15 stock on the day before release!?
Given the young adult target audience, social media and online news in the best way to build buzz. On the morning before launch GAME announced Ade’s appointment and syndicated a series of fierce looking images on Twitter through @GAMEdigital, @DaRealaakinfenwa and @EASPORTSFIFA, the latter with more than 2 million followers:
— EA SPORTS FIFA (@EASPORTSFIFA) September 25, 2014
As the images went viral on Twitter national media picked up on the story. The Daily Mirror requested an interview and when the Daily Star heard that the MHP team stupidly tried to take Ade on in a double arm-wrestle it gave them an alternative angle to run.
In planning the burning question at the outset was ‘What to do if Ade gets upset?’. It all came down to a question of seniority who gets to lock themselves in the stock cupboard while a junior team member attempts to pacify him. In reality, ‘The Beast’ was a pure joy to work with and all-round nice guy: his presence brought a crowd to the Kingston store on the day and helped make the GAME midnights a massive success across the country.
Involved agency: MHP Brand