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Sunday, 11 March 2012

A very clever use of celebrity

Celebrity endorsement is very powerful. We are conditioned to respond to people we have accepted and celebrities we admire are within our Monkeysphere as people we trust.

Which is why celebrity endorsement is also extremely expensive. Top A list celebrities know how much value they can add to a marketing campaign.

The Diablo series has found a very clever way to get celebrity endorsement without paying the celebrity.

Consider Deckard Cain. He has a Scottish accent. But he doesn't sound like most people from Scotland. It's a more gentle softer accent than other Scottish accents, it's an Edinburgh accent.

Now how many people outside the UK would have heard a Scottish accent that is specifically an Edinburgh accent? The answer is just about everyone because of this man:

Shhtay a while and lishten.

See how clever this is? There's no legal ownership of an Edinburgh accent, no one deserves royalties or fees if you use one. But when people hear Deckard Cain for most of us the association is with a well known and fatherly figure who we like and trust.

Blizzard have repeated this trick for another character in Diablo 3. Watch the first moments of the Templar as he is rescued. Sound like anyone you know? (Thanks to Force for the video).

If you weren't sure who he reminded you of, listen to this.

It's an English accent, more specifically a Yorkshire accent. And not just any old Yorkshire accent, it's a Sheffield accent. Again I think the majority of people outside the UK will hear a Sheffield accent and associate it with an actor who tends to play heroic sidekicks - heroes but not the main protagonist.

'Elp me find my geeyar.

Let me be clear, Blizzard hasn't done anything illegal or even, in my opinion, unethical. There's no copyright on accents and Sean Connery isn't the only man from Edinburgh nor is Sean Bean the only man from Sheffield. However the effect of using these particular accents in a Heroic Fantasy game creates a very strong association with heroic actors that fans may well like and admire already.

It doesn't depend on people recognising the reference either. In fact it possibly works better if you don't consciously realise who these voices remind you of. So you hear Deckard Cain and your reference point for someone who sounds like that is someone wise and trustworthy. You hear Kormac the Templar and your reference point is someone brash but loyal and brave. You don't actually need to know who. Your brain fills in the reference points subconsciously. It's how a lot of marketing works.

Effectively it's celebrity endorsement without the celebrity fee.

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