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MJD Interactive Builds App for Sega Game Promo at Comic-Con

Video game maker Sega has enlisted San Diego-based digital ad agency MJD Interactive for this year’s Comic-Con International to help it lure “Alien” movie fans inside the scary world of their highly anticipated new video game “Alien: Isolation.”

On July 21, Sega and MJD, which specializes in building mobile apps and websites for entertainment clients, will release an app designed to enable fans to track their way from the Gaslamp District inside Comic-Con for a sneak preview of the game.

The app will be released at Nerd HQ, the city’s annual pop culture convention at Petco Park.

With the app, fans will be able to use a hand-held motion tracker that can only be used on-site to help them locate a 7-foot tall alien egg that will be hidden inside Comic-Con, said Chris Robertson, an account executive at MJD. Fans can then crawl inside the egg to play a demo of the game.

“The motion tracker is an iconic device,” said Daniel Gallardo, senior marketing manager at Sega in San Francisco, referring to the handheld radar screen used by the movie and game’s characters to track the space monster’s movements. “This collaboration brings the motion tracker device used in the film to the smartphone.”

It’s the kind of collaboration and opportunity that local businesses have often seized from Comic-Con’s annual presence in San Diego.

And while MJD’s event-focused app is expected to create a major buzz for Sega’s “Alien: Isolation,” it will likely also be a big win for MJD in drumming up repeat and new clientele.

“The event itself is only a weekend long, but the great thing about it is that it turns into reciprocal business from Sega and Legendary Pictures,” which MJD promoted at last year’s Comic-Con, said Jeremy Duimstra, MJD’s co-founder and CEO.

A Legendary App

MJD and Sega have been in talks about working together since last year’s Comic-Con convention after Sega execs saw MJD’s work with Legendary Pictures at play — literally.

Gallardo described MJD’s Legendary app as truly innovative in its features and functionality and giving users a different way to engage with the brand.

“We plan to have a very big presence at Comic-Con and looked for similar ways to engage with our fans,” Gallardo said.

Last year’s project was similar in terms of guiding people via a mobile app from the convention center up seven blocks to Legendary’s rented warehouse with a Universal Studios-level attraction inside called the Godzilla Encounter, which featured a miniature Tokyo complete with Godzilla artifacts and giant screens.

“Once people downloaded the app at the booth within Comic-Con, it initiated a Geiger counter to lead users to the monster,” Robertson said.

MJD built the app with clicking sounds and dangerous warning animations to make it entertaining and fun for users along the way. Once inside, users were challenged to find Japanese language posters, which the translator portion of the app translated into English.

MJD’s work with Legendary earned the company gold for “Best Mobile App: Innovative & Experimental” at the W3 Awards.

The budget for Legendary’s promotion was $120,000, Duimstra said, though he and Gallardo declined to give a budget for this year’s event with Sega.

‘Becoming the Comic-Con Guys’

Gallardo said the app for Comic-Con is only phase one of the joint venture between Sega and MJD.

“Beyond Comic-Con we will have other fun ways for users to engage with the motion-tracker app,” Gallardo said, without offering details. “We will roll out other uses with the app until the launch of the game on Oct. 7.”

Duimstra said MJD differs from other agencies in town in that its 22 employees focus entirely on digital marketing.

Since he co-founded MJD in 2007 with Mike Maginnis, the agency’s president, MJD has landed some 40 clients, including big names like NBC Universal, Qualcomm Inc., Tony Robbins, Vail Resorts, Oakley, Titleist Performance Institute and The Walt Disney Co.

Duimstra and Robertson agree that being showcased at Comic-Con isn’t as much about MJD’s bottom line, but a great venue to network and explore business opportunities.

“We are becoming the Comic-Con guys in town,” Duimstra said. “It’s fun to do these apps, and there are so many interesting people.”

Marion Webb is a freelance writer in San Diego.

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