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How PlayStation Is Building Its Creator Strategy With LeBron James

The brand's worldwide marketing chief Eric Lempel talks about the Playmakers

1 de marzo de 2023 | AdWeek | Stephen Lepitak

LeBron James fans will know that, off the court, the basketball icon is an avid gamer. King James regularly interacts with his 52.8 million Twitter followers about his passion for gaming. And his fandom for Sony’s PlayStation console is legendary, as evidenced by an earnest image circling online from 2003 that shows him (on the precipice of an NBA draft) carrying around a clunky PS2 along with some tangled DualShock controllers, all to get his PlayStation fix.

Now, Sony has tapped him to join the gaming brand’s new creator initiative called “Playmakers,” making James a core part of its engagement strategy. PlayStation has also teamed with James to design and promote a limited-edition range of accessories for the PS5.

“We’ve got this really unique set of products that he [James] helped design,” Eric Lempel, senior vp and head of worldwide marketing and consumer experience at PlayStation, told Adweek. “It’s something we really haven’t done before, and it’s going to vary by Playmaker.”

James worked with the brand last year on its “All Parents Can Relate” campaign alongside John Travolta and Ben Stiller in a 3-minute spot to promote God of War Ragnarök.

James’ involvement with God of War’s campaign led Lempel and his team to broaden its work with James on Playmakers.

The Playmakers are a group of passionate gaming fans, creators, across, artists and entertainers who have partnered with PlayStation to share previews and behind-the-scenes access and unique experiences with their own fan base.

“There’ll be a lot of different executions, but it’s all about giving the Playmaker closer access to PlayStation and then finding ways for them to creatively show their passion for the category and for PlayStation while giving back to our fans in a meaningful way,” Lempel said.

Other names involved include country music star Jimmie Allen, actor and comedian King Bach, professional BMX athlete Nigel Sylvester, WNBA All-Rookie NaLyssa Smith, NFL stars Ja’Marr Chase and CeeDee Lamb, French football freestyler Lisa Zimouche, Belgian football star Romelu Lukaku and Brazilian content creator Julio Cocielo.

The Playmakers’ roles will form part of the brand’s aim to “inspire gaming fans” around the power of play and to share their passion for gaming around the world. “We’re just so fortunate to have this beloved brand that people get excited about and having these people be some of the most creative and talented people in the world and want to work with PlayStation and do something interesting, beyond making a game, because the majority of them don’t have that skill,” Lempel told Adweek. The company’s first global effort at engaging its fan base through creators follows some activity on the local level as PS broadened community-building efforts. Now that the program has begun, the main aim will be to build excitement for forthcoming experiences and products, including the release of games such as the remake of The Last of Us, Destiny 2: Lightfall and MLB The Show 23, due later this year.

A dedicated international PlayStation team will run the program, working closely with the Playmakers and monitoring their direct feedback along with the community’s. Metrics will include video views and social sentiment.

Lempel promised the company would not enforce a lot of “handholding” and allow the Playmakers to “do their thing.”

He continued: “They’re identified because they’re good at what they do, and they’re legitimate fans, in many cases, talking about PlayStation a lot without us talking to them at all. So, we’re kind of OK to let them go.”

Lempel also said that his own direct involvement would be based on an individual initiative basis. For example, he has been heavily involved in the work with James by reviewing the product, as well as overseeing the PlayStation design team’s finished concept for the accessories range. But in some cases, he won’t learn of the activation until it’s live.

“At the core of what we do is creativity and embracing creators,” Lempel said. “This is a way to get out there and talk to people who are creators and influencers in other categories but make it about PlayStation.”

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