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Enter the Dragon: JKC marketing strategist David McGuire poses with the CGI Dragon character created for Japanese software giant Zuken.

Cornish firms hatch fire-breathing dragon for global software launch

A Cornish marketing agency has spearheaded a global product launch for a Japanese software giant… with a little help from a fire-breathing dragon!

The Falmouth-based John Knowles Company was approached by CAD software multinational Zuken to produce an innovative and eye-catching campaign for its new circuit board auto-router, ‘Dragon’.

Together, the companies agreed an unusual strategy: creating a CGI Dragon character to personify the program.

JKC’s project manager for the campaign, David McGuire, explains: “Marketing in the electronics software sector can be a little dry and technical to say the least. The Dragon router is a major step forward for that industry, so we knew we needed to do things a little differently, to really grab the audience and make it clear this is more than just another upgrade.

“After all, it’s an entirely new species of router, so it only seemed fitting to breed an entirely new species of mascot!”

Created with local assistance from Truro-based Lou Jones Design and Penwith animators Spider Eye, the Dragon stars in a minute-long promotional video and accompanying microsite. Moreover, because it was created not as a drawing but as a three-dimensional CGI figure, the character was simple to re-use in a variety of poses for other media, including downloadable wallpapers, screensavers and print advertisements.

Although the campaign was initially commissioned by the Zuken’s Netherlands-based European Division, bosses at the company’s Japanese head office liked the Dragon so much, they immediately adopted the character and branding for the product’s launch worldwide – causing complications for the originators.

JKC company director John Knowles says: “Although we’re well used to multinational marketing in technical sectors, certain aspects of the campaign – such as the music in the Dragon video – were designed with a European audience in mind. We had to make some fast modifications to render the Dragon more appropriate for use worldwide – and particularly in the far east. Luckily, we work well under pressure!”

David McGuire added: “Hatching the Dragon was a lot of fun: bringing that slightly twisted, lateral approach to a campaign is what we do best!”

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