Computer firm Sega is launching a controversial pan-European advertising campaign, in which a game is shown simulating a seemingly fatal car accident.
The ad, for next-generation games machine Saturn, breaks in cinemas on August 14 before the film premiere of Die Hard With a Vengeance.
It depicts a shadowy character – Valcrie, the master games programmer for Sega. The plot centres on Sega’s car-racing game Daytona, and shows Valcrie programming the game by tracing the movements of a man driving at speed round a realistic racing track.
The climax comes as Valcrie takes over the controls, and deliberately rolls and crashes the car. The car’s occupant is then shown in hospital with Valcrie leaning over him, telling him that “reality always hurts”. It is not clear whether the victim is alive or dead.
The deliberately controversial ads through McCann-Erickson depict a Christ-like crash victim sporting a crown of thorns. There is also a gruesome shot of eyes being sucked out through tubes.
“The market needs a jolt,” says John Hackney, vice president of McCann-Erickson Europe. “We wanted to say Saturn is the closest to reality you can get. We defy anyone who sees the ad to say it could have come from any brand other than Sega.”
The campaign will air for the first few days of new film releases and will not show on TV screens until around October. It is estimated to be worth 25m across Europe, and will also encompass 16-page press inserts and a series of PR spin-offs through Freud Communications.
Sega claims Saturn has made UK sales approaching 10m since its launch last month, leaving retailers short of stock.