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Valve Skipping Ad Agencies With Portal 2

By - Source: MCV | B 34 comments

Valve is doing its own TV commercial, bypassing the "worthless" ad agencies.

Valve Software's marketing VP Doug Lombardi recently told MCV that the studio plans to do its own marketing for Portal 2 rather than hire an external ad agency. After all, no one knows how to market a game better than the studio who created it, right? Everything else submitted by creative agencies over the past few years have been "pretty close to worthless."

"We’ve had many creative kick-off meetings with agencies over the years, and you’d be shocked by the treatments that have come back," he admitted. "Copycat treatments. Cliché treatments. Treatments that reveal the agency wasn’t listening in the initial meeting."

In many cases, it could be merely a conflict of interpretation. External ad agencies are comprised of illustrators, graphic designers, photographers and other "artists" who spend their day-to-day work hours promoting numerous products and services, and thus use their marketing expertise to submit an ad campaign based on the customer's needs and feedback. Disconnected, they may just not get the "feel" of the product.

Valve, on the other hand, is also comprised of digital and traditional artists who do have a feeling for what they have created. It also make sense that these same artists tap into the soul of the game's overall development and conjure up the perfect ad campaign. It wouldn't be surprising if additional game studios begin to follow suit. However, many developers simply may not have the time. Many big-name publishers do their own advertising in-house.

According to Lombardi, the team spent a good eight straight weeks making its new TV ad for the upcoming game. Previously the team generated a series of successful Valentine's Day-themed online videos which ran back in February.

"With the Portal 2 ad, we play-tested it and were able to make changes during production," he added. "With an agency, those types of tests are too often left to a post-mortem – at which point, the value of those realizations is pretty close to worthless."

MCV said that Valve's TV commercial will be complimented by banners mounted on buses and train station walls in the UK. So far Lombardi hasn't indicated as to what depth the studio plans to advertise here in the States.

Portal 2 is slated to arrive on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Windows PC on April 19, 2011.

Portal 2 US TV Ad

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  • 12 Hide
    Efrayim , March 17, 2011 7:22 PM
    killerclickI hope the game fails miserably. Stupid devs, having them make advertising is like having a movie director make games - won't work.

    Troll much?
Other Comments
  • 9 Hide
    jibbs , March 17, 2011 7:06 PM
    Smart choice. Specially since they don't need much. Anybody who played the first one is sure to buy the second.
  • 12 Hide
    Efrayim , March 17, 2011 7:22 PM
    killerclickI hope the game fails miserably. Stupid devs, having them make advertising is like having a movie director make games - won't work.

    Troll much?
  • 3 Hide
    Anonymous , March 17, 2011 7:42 PM
    Very Good Choice, amount of money saved and value gained wont compare to any add agency
  • 5 Hide
    rubix_1011 , March 17, 2011 7:44 PM
    The game has pretty much sold itself already.

    The rest is simply bonus sales.
  • 2 Hide
    RADIO_ACTIVE , March 17, 2011 8:08 PM
    Gameplay footage with a sick sound track how hard can it be... then develop flash ads for gaming and tech sites... like said before, the game has really sold itself, I have yet to play a game like the first portal and will probably buy the second.
  • 0 Hide
    Mottamort , March 17, 2011 8:09 PM
    Games have adverts? I cannot think I've ever seen one (besides on websites..and that was before I installed adblock :p )

    Granted I don't live in the US, so maybe they aren't global ad's :) 
  • 2 Hide
    eklipz330 , March 17, 2011 8:24 PM
    killerclickI hope the game fails miserably. Stupid devs, having them make advertising is like having a movie director make games - won't work.

    TH gotta get those TD to work properly again
  • -2 Hide
    Anonymous , March 17, 2011 8:28 PM
    Not buying another valve game until Half life 2 episode 3 is released...a promise is a promise.
  • -7 Hide
    codeman03xx , March 17, 2011 8:51 PM
    Come on people Portal was a terrible game. Ive had better puzzle solving stuff in Tomb raider and half-life 1. LOL. Will not be buying portal two 1 was a waste of time. MAKE HALF-LIFE 3 already.
  • 0 Hide
    restatement3dofted , March 17, 2011 8:53 PM
    killerclickI hope the game fails miserably. Stupid devs, having them make advertising is like having a movie director make games - won't work.


    Advertising is serious business, AMIRITE?
  • 1 Hide
    chavo12345 , March 17, 2011 8:55 PM
    I think advertising through youtube is enough.
  • 1 Hide
    hoofhearted , March 17, 2011 9:15 PM
    I think it will add new perspective. I bet they do a better job than an ad agency would. Game devs tend to be more in tune with gamers, their sense of humor and what appeals to them.
  • 0 Hide
    megamanx00 , March 17, 2011 9:34 PM
    \^_^/
  • -2 Hide
    Anonymous , March 17, 2011 10:29 PM
    8 weeks for ads...your a gaming studio, make a game. How about Valve stops taking 8 years to make a freaking sequel? Your main character doesn't even speak, it can't be that hard FFS. (j/k, all you fanboys can relax)
    Feels good to vent every now and then :) 
  • 1 Hide
    xambron , March 18, 2011 12:09 AM
    Good choice, the game will receive plenty exposure simply being in Steam news and recent releases.
  • 0 Hide
    kinggraves , March 18, 2011 12:58 AM
    Hey great, so is the game going to be cheaper then, or are you just going to take more money Valve?

    I'm all for cutting out the marketing and physical media and the devs getting more money but they really should pass those savings on to us.
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , March 18, 2011 12:58 AM
    killerclickI hope the game fails miserably. Stupid devs, having them make advertising is like having a movie director make games - won't work.


    umm excuse me but valve make everything awesome ( except hats). and even if the ads are bad, you think bad ads = bad game? right right mr. troll that is some extreme retarded thinking
  • 0 Hide
    ltbob , March 18, 2011 1:51 AM
    EXCELLENT

    You know whats great I hope they're doing the commercial with the source engine... because wow everyone would want a piece of that huh? Virtual commercials :) 
  • -2 Hide
    Formata , March 18, 2011 2:17 AM
    This is extremely disappointing to read... Valve's explanation has no logic. I can understand Valve feeling ripped off by ad agencies that don't meet their expectations or being unsatisfied with previous advertising campaigns... but this just highlights their inability to find ad agency that they can work with. As Lombardi says, you wouldn't expect anyone else to understand Portal 2 better than Valve... absolutely no argument from me there, but do Valve understand their target market or how to communicate to them or excite them or drive them to purchase. I imagine if Doug got a haircut he was disappointed with, he would give it a go himself? I hope in the future Valve stick with creating games, something they do extremely well.

    I look forward to seeing Valve's ad, my expectations are extremely low (unlike my expectations of Portal 2)
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