Interview: Peter Moore, EA Sports President
Five pages with the former Reebok, Sega and Xbox boss, on expanding the EA Sports brand, signing up new sporting mega-talent, bundling Wii MotionPlus, growing up in a pub and why darts and snooker aren't really sports.
Kikizo: Can you talk a bit about the marketing differences for EA Sports between the UK and the US?
Moore: Well, it's product-specific. Our primary focus in the UK is obviously FIFA. We do very well with Tiger in the UK. A little bit of NBA, NHL... do we sell NHL here?
PR Guy: Yeah we do... Madden out of the US sports is probably the most successful of those three.
Moore: Yeah... and you have the legacy of the NFL and the world league and the European league and whatever the heck it used to be called here. So, from a marketing point of view, we do a tremendous amount of television - very innovative television - with FIFA here, and then we'll do... I don't think there's any other television that's done by UK on EA Sports... oh, Tiger, we put Tiger on TV here. Other than that, we do more TV in the US because the US is a more efficient place to do television, because of size versus number of impressions, and most of our major franchises are on TV. But more and more we're doing the type of marketing you saw on Tiger like 'walk on water', the viral videos that we do - and quite frankly, less above-the-line, classic mass-market marketing; we're becoming more targeted, and making sure our pounds - or our dollars or our Euros - go further.
Kikizo: On the EA Games side, the gamer perception has really changed over the last few years - all the new IP, focus on high quality. How can you keep those core gamers impressed with the product range on the Sports side, since after all, it's the same brands coming back year after year with incremental improvements?
Moore: We do more than incremental improvements. You truly innovate; you make sure that you're adding new online features, and you market those hard, which we've done in all of our games. You continue to bring to life the excitement of the pre-season when it comes, and we're as much a part of the regular season as the game is itself; when Madden ships on August 14th, that is an indicator that football is coming, and it's a milestone that people circle on the calendar. When FIFA ships here, typically at the end of September or October, it's a big deal here, and it also signifies that football's on the way. We put a lot of money into marketing, both with the NFL with Madden and here, with the Premier League in particular. Those guys down the road: if you watch any Chelsea game, you're going to see a tonne of FIFA and Let's FIFA 09 on the LCD boards. So the fundamental difference is we do more TV in the US because we can, and we're a little bit more innovative here - although the UK is our premier singular market in Europe, and we'll do a little more TV here for the primary FIFA base.
Kikizo: Thinking back to when the current generation was first unveiled, EA Sports was there - there really wasn't much see of this gen before that Madden footage. Presumably you want to have the same impact when the next wave comes, so are you thinking about the timing on that?
Moore: Well I can't put a time on it, because that's out of my control, and I'm hopeful that this generation lasts as long as it looks like it's going to last, which is many, many more years to come. And then as you might imagine, typically when new consoles come along, we'll be there as the leader in publishing for decades now, we'll be there with our good friends at Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo. But that's a long way away.
Kikizo: So, "a long way away" then.
Moore: There you go, you can quote me on that. It's a long way away.
Kikizo: Well, that's pretty much everything - I was just going to ask how San Francisco has been treating you since you got back.
Moore: I love it, that's why I moved, it's the greatest city in the world! It's a little warm right now, I think it's like 90 degrees there today. My two eldest kids went to Berkley right across the Bay, went to university there. For the most part they grew up there, so as I've said on many occasions, it was a personal decision to go back home, if I can call San Francisco home... I first moved there in 1984 - so 25 years ago was my first taste of San Francisco, and it's always felt like home, so I do enjoy it. Perfect weather, wacky people, beautiful environments, and unbelievably expensive! It's great.
Kikizo: Awesome. Can I get a photo of you sat right like this. We've got the West End in the background and everything.
Moore: [Peter sings the tune, "West End Girls"]. Good seeing you, Adam.
Our thanks to Peter and the fantastic EA staff for their time last week. Look out for upcoming coverage of their hottest stuff for 2009 and 2010 - we've got loads of it on the way.