Marketing for Grand Theft Auto IV

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Mural ad for the game on a wall at Canal and Greene street, New York City, July 2007.

Grand Theft Auto IV is the first title in the third generation of the best-selling Grand Theft Auto video game franchise developed by Rockstar North which was released on 29 April 2008. As the release date approached, Rockstar had been marketing the game heavily. Rockstar's marketing has come in many forms, including television ads, internet video, viral marketing, and a redesigned web site. There was even a mural of a prostitute named Lola painted on the side of a building in SoHo, New York.

Trailers[edit]

Trailer 1: "Things Will Be Different"[edit]

An early screenshot of the game's main protagonist, Niko Bellic, in the first trailer.

The first trailer was released on 29 March 2007 at 22:00 UTC. At the time the trailer was released, Rockstar's servers for the trailer's official website became almost immediately overloaded.[1]

The trailer is 1:03 in length and features the main protagonist Niko Bellic, who has a brief monologue: "Life is complicated; I killed people, smuggled people, sold people. Perhaps here, things will be different."

The trailer features several spoof New York City landmarks. The trailer uses a similar cinematic style to Godfrey Reggio's 1982 documentary film Koyaanisqatsi and used Philip Glass's original music from the film (the opening and closing stanzas of the track "Pruit-Igoe") as well as emulated time-lapsed filming from "The Grid".[2]

Rockstar has stated that all the trailer's footage is in high-definition 720p, generated real-time by the game's RAGE engine, running on "a next-gen gaming console." Microsoft stated this console was an Xbox 360.[3][4]

Incidentally, the initial server overload due to the heavy traffic is also credited for causing the first instances of Rickroll, where a 4chan user linked to the music video for Rick Astley's song Never Gonna Give You Up claiming it was a mirror of the trailer on YouTube.[5]

Trailer 2: "Looking For That Special Someone"[edit]

A screenshot demonstrating the new damage physics in the second trailer.

The second trailer was released on 28 June 2007 at 17:00 UTC. The trailer is 1:06 in length and begins with an aerial shot of Liberty City before showing Niko in conversation who replies "We're all looking for that special someone." The trailer shows Niko holding on to the backs of vehicles and the skid of a helicopter, displays new gun and explosion effects and demonstrates the increased force of the police. Roman is also partially revealed in the second trailer. El Burro and 8-Ball make cameos as their game art is depicted as graffiti on a building in Dukes, Vice City motorcycle artwork is also apparent on the wall. Other recurring elements from the GTA series appear in the trailer as well; examples include Binco, Sprunk, 24-Seven, Burger Shot and Cluckin' Bell. The song played in the second trailer is "Arm In Arm (Shy Child Remix)" by a New York-based band, The Boggs.[6]

Trailer 3: "Move Up, Ladies"[edit]

The third trailer was released on 6 December 2007 at 21:00 UTC. The trailer is 2:03 in length and begins with Niko arriving in Liberty City, being greeted by Roman, his cousin. Roman insists that they will soon get a mansion, but need to work their way "to the top" first. Niko is seen entering clubs and coming out of bars, where he is welcomed by a man who says "Move Up, Ladies." In a later scene, he is asked "So, where are you taking me?" by one woman named Michelle, and kissed on the cheek by another. Niko begins looking for Roman, who is hiding from gangsters; various combat scenes are shown before Niko and Roman are attacked, captured and interrogated. At the end of the trailer, Niko is threatened by gangsters and is forced to join their gang. The song played in the third trailer is "King Ring" (Король Ринга) by Russian rap artist Seryoga. The song can be heard in one of the game's radio station, Vladivastok FM.[7]

Trailer 4: "Good Lord, What Are You Doing?" AKA "Everyone's a Rat"[edit]

The fourth trailer, titled "Good Lord, What Are You Doing?" AKA "Everyone's a Rat" was released on 27 March 2008 at 22:00 UTC. The trailer is 1:17 in length and begins with a police helicopter flying over Liberty City. Most of the trailer is spent showing a bank robbery being carried out by four men including Niko. Other scenes include a police chase along a runway of Francis International Airport, Niko being entertained in a strip club and a slow-mo car explosion (The man flying through the air during the explosion appears to be Niko). The trailer then shows an unidentified male holding a saw at the back of Niko's head, before some clips are played at high speed. It ends with a scene in which Niko is wiping his forehead in the rain. The trailer uses "Real McKoy" by reggae artist Mavado.

Box art unveiling[edit]

On 28 November 2007, a video was released, labelled "Official Box Art Unveiling", on the official GTA IV website. The video shows several artists painting the cover art on a wall at a secluded warehouse location.[8]

Teasers[edit]

On 8 February 2008, Rockstar Games released five teaser trailers for Grand Theft Auto IV.[9]

  • Vlad Glebov: The first teaser shows the character Vladimir Glebov. It is 0:26 in length.
  • Manny Escuela: The second teaser is about character Manny Escuela. It is 0:31 in length.
  • Roman Bellic: The third teaser is about character Roman Bellic. It is 0:33 in length.
  • Whiz Wireless: The fourth teaser is about wireless communication Whiz. It is 0:33 in length.
  • Steinway Beer Garden: The fifth teaser is about a bar called The Steinway Beer Garden. It is 0:47 in length.

On 21 February 2008, two further teasers were released.

  • Dilettante Hybrid: The sixth teaser is about a new car called the Karin Dilettante - a hybrid vehicle based on the Toyota Prius. The video is 0:40 in length.
  • Phil Bell: The seventh teaser is about the character Phil Bell. It is 0:33 in length.

On 7 March 2008, another two teasers were released.

  • Packie McReary: The eighth teaser shows the character Patrick "Packie" McReary. It is 0:29 in length.
  • LCPD Recruitment: The ninth teaser is about a policeman Brian O'Toole who describes his job, to recruit more people. It satirizes the post 9/11 actions of the NYPD, such as their bag search policy on the subways and their draconian treatment of protesters during the 2004 Republican National Convention. It is 0:45 in length.
  • Gamestop TV Spot: This tenth teaser trailer shows a tour by a Top Celebrity name Jeremy St. Ives about life in Liberty City. It is about 1:00 in length. The video shows Jeremy St. Ives as a big celebrity showing the highlights of Liberty City, but it turns out Liberty doesn't have many highlights. The song played in the TV spot was Miles Davis's Move

On 11 April 2008, two teasers were released.

  • Playboy X: The eleventh teaser shows the character Playboy X. It is 0:31 in length. The song used is "Wet 'Em Up" by Tru Life.
  • Liberty City Gun Club: The twelfth teaser is about liquor, guns and fun. It is 0:51 in length.

On 25 April 2008, a teaser was released.

Commercials[edit]

On 4 April 2008, a commercial was released, showing Niko walking towards the camera in many areas, from a prison to an airport. The main purpose of the video is to showcase both the realistic environments and the fluid walking animation of the main character. The video is 0:59 in length, however there is a shorter version that is about 0:30 in length. In Europe, the advert advertises only the Xbox 360 version and not the PlayStation 3 version. It features the typical 'Xbox Swoosh' at the end. It also mentions a price reduction in the system. The song used in the video is called 'Get Innocuous!' by LCD Soundsystem.

Other promotion[edit]

WKTT Talk Radio[edit]

On 13 July 2007, a Liberty City radio station dubbed "WKTT Talk Radio - We Know The Truth" was launched. The teaser site mentions that people can do their part for the War on Terror by calling in and ranting. The phone number listed can be called allowing the caller to leave a voice mail message of their thoughts on what is wrong with their health, the world, America, or themselves personally. Callers are asked to first read the Terms and Conditions before calling which allow Rockstar to use the voice mail message in GTA IV.[10]

Wanted posters[edit]

In parts of Belgium, wanted posters depicting Niko Bellic and Little Jacob appeared. The posters list specific details of each character, such as the characters' height, weight, and age. Niko is wanted for questioning in an investigation of a grand theft auto incident and Little Jacob for robbery and firearms possession. Other information revealed within the posters were the names of two streets in the game, Lorimar Street and Wordite Street; a possible way of car-jacking within the game via assaulting the driver with a baseball bat and a possible, unofficially released character within the game, "Detective Moeller".[11][12][13] Rockstar Games has indicated that these promotion posters were accidentally released and therefore unofficial.[14] However, besides being released on the game's main website, these posters were later sent to numerous GTA fansites as parts of exclusive press kits referred to as 'Hidden Packages'.[15][16] The posters are now available on the official GTA IV website as a printable download.

Official website[edit]

On 8 February 2008, Rockstar Games launched the official Grand Theft Auto IV website with previously unseen content from the game.[17]

The site introduces itself with a view of the Liberty City skyline and "Welcome to Liberty City" followed by numerous slogans, for example "Come and visit! You'll be desperate to leave" and "The American dream? It's time to wake up"

The main content is split into three sections: People and Places, Recreation and Entertainment, and Goods and Services. The new website features new teaser trailers and several images of in-game characters and locations, as well as a basic outline of the map of Liberty City. There are several advertisements for in-game products and services including a dating site, a mobile phone company, and the return of the drink, Sprunk, which was also featured in the previous game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. Within these in-game advertisements are downloads for wallpapers, buddy icons, and MySpace layouts. There is also a mini-game and a personality quiz. In addition, six of the eighteen in-game radio stations can currently be previewed.

On 11 April 2008, the "multiplayer" section of the website was updated with details on different the multiplayer functions that will be available.[18]

Grand Theft Auto IV: Special Edition[edit]

Grand Theft Auto IV: Special Edition was announced on 21 May 2007 for both the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions.[19] It contains the following:

  • A customized metal safe deposit box.
  • A Rockstar keychain for the safe deposit box keys.
  • A limited edition Rockstar duffel bag.
  • Production artwork in the Grand Theft Auto IV Art Book.
  • The Music of Grand Theft Auto IV soundtrack CD.
  • A box containing the above specific for each platform:
    • The PlayStation 3 version has an illustration of Lola Del Rio, a prostitute in the game, on the cardboard box sleeve.
    • The Xbox 360 version has an illustration of the main character, Niko Bellic, on the cardboard sleeve.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]