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Nickelodeon stages a battle of good versus evil to promote Ninja Turtles

The Offer: To drum up excitement for the premiere of its rebooted 1980s cartoon sensation Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in September, Nickelodeon joined forces with Tribal DDB Worldwide’s New York arm. With July’s Comic-Con convention in San Diego as the battleground, attendees were encouraged to choose a side in the “Turtles vs. Foot” war, in which Turtles, representatives of justice, engaged in digital skirmishes with their antagonists, members of the evil Foot Clan. Participants could join in missions via a mobile website (m.turtlesvsfoot.com) to win real-time prizes and rewards, including tote bags packed with posters, T-shirts, and a Turtles-themed toy autographed by TMNT creator Kevin Eastman.

The Data: Nickelodeon is viewed in more than 100 million homes. Though Comic-Con ended on July 15, the mobile challenge was active through July 31.

The Channel: The campaign leveraged mobile and social, augmented by street teams that spread the word in San Diego. Branded trucker hats were distributed, enabling fans to display their chosen allegiance. Guerrilla tactics, including chalked sidewalk messages and outdoor video projections, spurred traffic to the mobile site.

The Creative: Players received voicemails from either evil overlord Shredder or sensai Splinter, the latter telling disciples in his message, “Honor, discipline, love. This is the way to power.”

The Verdict:

Stewart Krull is EVP and executive creative director at Atmosphere Proximity, where, since joining in 2007, he has led creative work across the agency’s accounts, including Citigroup and Bud Light. Krull was a student at New York’s School of Visual Arts during the birth of the graphic novel. Read our Q&A with Stewart for more.

Before vampires and zombies ruled the pop culture fanscape, ninjas held dominion with an iron fist. “Turtles vs. Foot” invited participants to choose good or evil, but what it was really about was getting convention-goers to choose to wear TMNT merchandise instead of the latest Batman or Hobbit gear. With an understanding that they wouldn’t be the only marketers fighting for their audience’s attention, Nickelodeon and Tribal DDB wisely kept the experience simple.

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