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Showing posts sorted by relevance for query spud dive. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query spud dive. Sort by date Show all posts

Is video of the Sega Spud Dive PR events 'lost media'?

Long time readers of the Junkyard will no doubt be aware of my penchant for the obscure, the esoteric and the forgotten. Naturally, due to my obsession with the Dreamcast, there's something of a Venn diagram crossover where all of these ingredients are thrown together - obscure, esoteric, largely forgotten stuff relating to the Dreamcast is my bread and butter. But never Marmite. Yuck.

Take for example, my quest to unearth the actual court documents relating the the City of Milwaukee's failed attempt to probhibit the US release of Jet Set/Grind Radio owing to the conurbation's battle with unauthorised graffitti. Or the (currently dormant) attempt to discover the identity of the female voice artist responsible for the "This is a Dreamcast disc..." warning that PAL Dreamcast owners are undoubtedly familiar with. And who can forget the publication of the Sega internal email that heralded the end of the Dreamcast, but recreated in the style of House of Leaves? There was something about the barber from the European Dreamcast TV adverts too. Another one of these wild flights of fancy was my attempt to document the lesser known Sega Spud Dive PR events - something I was even able to quiz none other than former Sega of America President Peter Moore on when he appeared on episode 100 of our podcast DreamPod.

1998 Spud Dive winner Daniel Aguilar receiving his prize from Peter Moore

I'm not about to retread old ground here though. No, as stated, we've covered the Spud Dive previously. What I'm specifically focusing on now is the fact that while the Sega Spud Dive events were reasonably well documented with photographs in magazines of the time; have seen first person blogs on the event posted online; and were also recapped on some PR focussed websites of the era, there doesn't seem to be any video of either Spud Dive event anywhere online.

Proof that Mark Wahlberg took video of a Spud Dive

To clarify, there were two seperate Spud Dives - one held in 1998 to mark the Japanese launch of the Dreamcast, where the prize was a US launch day console and all of the launch games (later presented by Peter Moore); while the second event was held around Thanksgiving of 2000 to raise awareness of the console during the height of PlayStation 2 launch window fever. The second event also featured two actors dressed as Presidential candidates Al Gore and George W. Bush, to give a 'newsy' angle, apparently.

Source: Retrovolve

That no video exists of either Spud Dive (or indeed a prior similar event held in 1997 to mark the launch of Sonic R) is particularly puzzling, especially because this article from organiser Provoke Media's website claims that several TV crews were in attendence at the 2000 re-run, and the event was featured in a news segment by the Craig Kilborn Show - a US TV show which was hugely popular at the time.

"All coverage of “The Sega Spud Dive” aired the week of Thanksgiving, the busiest shopping time of the year.  More than 82 broadcast results appeared, including the Craig Kilborn Show and the ABC, CBS and Fox affiliates in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Washington DC, Miami, Atlanta, San Diego, Phoenix, Chicago, Dallas, Boston, Indianapolis, Denver, Cincinnati, Oklahoma City, Milwaukee and many others. 

"Los Angeles Daily News sent a photographer and ran a photo with a large caption featuring Sega Spud Dive.  95% of the results mentioned both Sega and Dreamcast.  Dreamcast sales went up 82% during Thanksgiving weekend, from previous weeks."

- Paul Holmes, Provoke Media

I have searched high and low for some footage from either Sega Spud Dive event, mainly because I want to witness the absurdity of people swimming through cold mashed potatoes in an attempt to win a Dreamcast/Dreamcast related goodies - but to date I have found zero evidence that actual video of the procedings still exists. I've searched for local news channels that focus on the Los Angeles area and also episodes of the Craig Kilborn Show from around the time period, but even these appear to be lost media in themselves. The article linked above also states that:

"After the event, B-roll was hand-delivered to stations that did not send a camera crew and submitted the photo to the Associated Press, Reuters, Entertainment Wire and LA News Wire, which was distributed via satellite and hand-delivered to local network affiliates to increase national exposure."

Where is this B-roll? Where are these news items that were distributed via satellite? Associated Press, Reuters and Entertainment Wire aren't exactly small outlets or organisations, so why can't I find a single trace of any of this online? There's even a camera operator in the background of the image at the top of this page! I realise that 1998 and 2000 were different times, and people didn't walk around with 4K video cameras in their pockets; but there were news camera crews in attendance...where is the video? I clearly have more questions that answers when it comes to video footage or TV news reports of hapless members of the public swimming through mashed potatoes to win a Dreamcast.

To this end, I'd like to know if anyone out there reading this has any more first hand memories of either of the Sega Spud Dives? Did you take part? Do you have video or do you recall seeing video on TV? Hell, are you Daniel Aguilar - the guy who won the original Dreamcast and took delivery from Peter Moore himself? Or are you Levi Buchanan who won the second Spud Dive competition? I know this is a massive long shot and I know that this obsession of mine is ultimatley pointless, but for some reason this bizarre publicity stunt absolutley fascinates me; and it is the relative lack of documentation, outside of a few magazine articles and online snippets (look here and here, and also from the 8:55 mark during the Video Game History Foundation's Dreamcast launch podcast episode) that makes it all the more alluring. Alas, approximately zero videos.

Anyway, that's all I really have to say on the Sega Spud Dive for now (promise!). Maybe video does exist, but I'm either looking in the wrong places or simply using the wrong search terms. Either way, I'm hoping someone will be able to point me in the direction of some video taken of either event, but for now I'm inclined to file Sega Spud Dive video footage under 'lost media.'

The Madness Of The SEGA Spud Dive

Sega's various Dreamcast advertising campaigns are well documented here at the 'Yard. We've looked extensively at the efforts of the Japanese, American and European arms of the company to push the Dreamcast brand and also witnessed the mixed results. However, there is one publicity stunt that there is comparatively little information about online: the Sega Spud Dive.

No, we haven't gone senile - you read that right. The Spud Dive was an attempt to drum up media attention for the Dreamcast in the US right around the time of the Japanese launch in 1998, and involved members of the public literally diving into a 2000 gallon vat of cold mashed potatoes to search for the letters that make up the words 'Sega' and 'Dreamcast.' The prize for collecting the letters within the 45 second time limit? One of the first Dreamcast systems at the US launch, along with all the launch games and $1000 in cash. Not bad for swimming around in cold mash for less than a minute. According to this report from the LA Times, 100 people took part in the first Spud Dive held on Hollywood Boulevard on the morning of Monday 23rd November 1998. Sega of America spokesman Dan Stevens said of the event:

"We've heard of consumers in America who are already putting down money for the systems, so we planned an event where fans could win them now. Since it's Thanksgiving week, what could be more appropriate than mashed potatoes?"
Indeed Dan, indeed. Using that logic, maybe Sony or Microsoft should get people to jump into a vat of cold kebab meat, chips and lager next time they release a game on a Friday. Or even better, have a truck-load of said games stolen the day before release (topical joke - check). Snark aside, the Spud Dive held in 1998 seems to have been something of a success, and the local news media certainly lapped it up. Any publicity is good publicity, even if it does involve getting mashed potatoes in every orifice.

The winner of the first prize on that fateful November morning was Daniel Aguilar, and true to it's word Sega presented him with his prize almost a year later in September 1999. Peter Moore was the man who had the honour of handing Daniel his prize.
Taken shortly before Moore set fire to the factory and ran away to Microsoft
The story of the Spud Dive doesn't end here though. Almost two years later Sega Spud Dive 2000 attempted to recreate the media frenzy of the original, and as documented in this assessment of the event (by the PR firm assigned to run the promotion), it was even weirder than the first:

As the holiday season approached, both the gaming and consumer media were focused on Sony PS2. Sega’s objectives were to generate coverage for Sega Dreamcast to reinforce the Sega brand and send the message that consumers would do anything to get their hands on Sega Dreamcast, the wise alternative to the expensive, hard-to-find PS2. This coverage would increase consumers’ intent to purchase during the fourth quarter.

A stage, 2,000-gallon above-ground pool, and a fully-equipped PA system were secured for the event. Sega Dreamcast signage was prominently placed in various locations to ensure coverage. In the hours leading up to the actual event, a lottery was held to select five participants for the contest. Access also hired two actors to portray George W. Bush and Al Gore, who were still officially tied in their presidential race to ensure that media had an additional newsy angle with a great visual. Changing rooms and clean-up areas were also secured for messy contestants.
Interestingly, the analysis of the event goes into detail about the media coverage that was given to Spud Dive 2000 (or Spud Dive 2K, as it's referred to); and that local news crews from various cities around the US were invited to either film proceedings or that B-roll was supplied to them for nightly news shows. However, a quick scout around sites like YouTube and Vimeo yields no evidence that any of this has been archived online - certainly not in the usual places, anyway.

Further to this, it appears that the first Spud Dive in 1998 was actually preceded by a much smaller pilot event in 1997 to mark the release of Sonic R on the Saturn; where a 350 gallon vat was filled with potatoes and contestants had to find a golden ring in order to win prizes. Here's the press release as archived by SEGA Retro. What's with all the potato, eh Sega?

In summary, Spud Dive 2000 was an attempt by Sega of America to hi-jack sales of the newly-released PlayStation 2 right before the busy Thanksgiving shopping period...and the pièce de résistance of the whole shebang? Having two actors portraying Al Gore and George W. Bush hanging around the event in an attempt to loosely tie the whole potatoey clusterfuck to the presidential elections. Hats off to them for trying something fun and original, but you literally couldn't make this shit up. Sony are literally about to embark on a world-crushing campaign of destruction with the PlayStation 2, and meanwhile Sega have members of the public jumping into cold mashed potatoes while two jobbing lookalikes prance around telling political anecdotes.

A few months later Sega cancelled production of the Dreamcast.

The Dreamcast Beach Football Challenge

On the 15th July 2000, Sega held the inaugural Dreamcast Beach Football Challenge at Richmond Athletics Ground in Essex, UK. I say 'inaugural,' but I'm pretty sure there wasn't a repeat event the following year, as by April 2001 Sega had already taken their ball and gone home. Regardless, this event is quite interesting as it was primarily hosted by Sega Europe as a marketing campaign designed to spread awareness of the Dreamcast in Europe and the UK. Plus, the event was helped no end by the international footballing glitterati that was invited to take part.
What I wouldn't give to own that tent in the background.
Most notable amongst the sporting royalty was none other than Manchester United legend Eric Cantona, who represented with a team of French ex-international players. Other teams taking part in the tournament included Manchester United Greats, Liverpool Legends and Arsenal Allstars. Naturally, the other teams comprised ex-players from the respective clubs, and by all accounts the event was a huge crowd pleaser. According to this article from 2000, Sega imported over 750 tonnes of sand for the games to be played on, and over 4,000 spectators crammed into the venue to watch the footballing magic unfold. Elsewhere, according to a small report in Dreamcast Magazine issue 12, there were multiple console pods dotted around and lots of freebies for the attendees. France walked away the victors (thumping Manchester United 5-3 in the final), but check out these photos of this lesser-known Dreamcast event: We're pretty confident that this whole thing was a lot more credible than the Sega Spud Dive, but ultimately it did little to alter the Dreamcast's fortunes. Were you at the Dreamcast Beach Football Challenge on that July day in 2000? Did you grab any merchandise? If so, please share your memories of the event in the comments section!

Dreamcast Origins and Potatoes

I haven't written in a bit, and I think it's been long enough, so let's have a bit of nostalgia! Namely, my first interactions with the Dreamcast. Oh, and my thoughts on a certain Sega publicity stunt.

Not mine, but it's the same version. Best swirl, BTW

We were never ones to get a video game system new, so I had an NES and Sega Pico a few years after their heyday (Well, the latter for sure. I was born just as the SNES was coming into its own.) Anyway, one day around the year 2000 or 2001, we go to Best Buy and purchase a Dreamcast. According to a extremely reliable source (Wikipedia, of course) we purchased it just as it was phasing out. Not exactly new, but the closest I'd been to that point.

Dreamcast Magazine Issue 17

Issue 17 of Paragon Publishing's unofficial Dreamcast Magazine was available to purchase in UK corner shops from 28th December 2000. Costing just £2.99 and nestled in amongst the Buckfast and Wham Bars, issue 17 featured Ubisoft and Darkworks' Lovecraft-inspired horror adventure Alone In The Dark: The New Nightmare on the cover; alongside Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2, Resident Evil 3: Nemesis and Tomb Raider Chronicles. The biggest draw for buyers of Dreamcast Magazine issue 17 though, was the infamous cover-mounted free gift.
The Blaze Xploder DC Cheats CD was intended to be a sample of the full product, which allowed users to activate cheats in Dreamcast games. Promising exotic treats such as infinite lives, the removal of in-game timers, and naked characters (probably); the demo version bundled with issue 17 allowed gamers to implement certain 'pokes' in a limited selection of 'titles.' However, it quickly became apparent that while the disc did indeed work as intended, it also bestowed upon users the ability to completely bypass the regional lockout of the Dreamcast and thus opened the door for UK gamers to play NTSC-U and NTSC-J games on their PAL systems.
Imagine for a moment that you answered an innocent knock on your front door, only to be confronted by Professor X who proceded to explain that you were the heir to Stark Industries and were now the new Iron Man. Yes, I know I'm mixing franchises, but this is the kind of power we're talking about. Sort of. It isn't. Anyway, this wasn't the only time such a blunder glorious fuck up was made by a magazine in the UK (as this recent Eurogamer article from former DC-UK editor Keith Stuart will testify); but it was certainly the first time it happened with a disc given away by Dreamcast Magazine, and it probably didn't help Paragon's relationship with Sega Europe either.

In Search Of The Barber

The various Dreamcast advertising campaigns hold a certain fascination for me. The It's Thinking and Mr Sega/Yukawa campaigns from the US and Japan respectively were massively successful and we've looked at them in the recent past (just don't mention the Spud Dive). Before you groan 'not another advertising post' though, please bear with me. This is slightly different for reasons which will become apparent. The European advertising campaign for the Dreamcast launch was made up of several different TV and cinema adverts, but the one most people will be familiar with is this one:


The advert is known as Shave, and I'm sure you've seen it before or possibly even remember when it was shown on (European) TV and in cinemas back in that brief period in 1999/2000 when the world was gripped by Dreamcast-mania.

So let's break it down. Robbie Williams' Let Me Entertain You blares, rather appropriately from the speakers as a bunch of fresh-faced Foreign Legion recruits are lead into the barbers studio of some form of military installation. Three barbers await, and are labelled as players one, two and three and then quickly set about engaging in a battle to see who can shave their conscript's head the fastest. Player Two comes out on top as the guard looks on, the younger competitors beaten by the experience of their older adversary. Victorious, the character whom we will henceforth refer to as The Barber, gives a wry smile to the camera as the story comes to a close. It's not a bad advert by any means, and sets the scene perfectly - the Dreamcast was all about multi-player competition after all, what with all the online gubbins. There are some negative points, such as the way no game footage at all was used (and likewise in the other advert from this campaign entitled Buoy) but that's a different story.

Now, I did do a post fairly recently where I looked briefly at the (slightly xenophobic) European campaigns, but this time I want to focus solely on something that has been bugging me for a while: just who is the winning barber in this advert? For a very short period between 1999 and 2000, this gentleman's face was plastered all over TV and cinema screens; a poster showing him posing with a barber's chair and hair clippers could be found in pretty much every games shop in the land, and the vast majority of Dreamcast games came with a 'coming soon' pamphlet in the rear compartment with this guy all over them. But do a Google search for 'Dreamcast barber' or words to that effect...and do you know what you'll find? Nothing. Not a bean, other than a few images like this - most of which come from this very site:
So the question remains: just who is the actor who portrays The Barber? What is his name? Did he appear in any other productions and what did he make of his five minutes of fame? In the famous words of Sherlock Holmes, the game is afoot...

An Interview With Bernie Stolar

There are few people who are more intrinsically linked with the history of the Dreamcast than Bernie Stolar. Along with personalities such as Peter Moore and Hidekazu 'Mr Dreamcast' Yukawa, Bernie Stolar is extremely well known and was the man who kicked the whole party off. Here, in this candid interview we welcome Bernie to the Junkyard and pick his brains on the history of our favourite console and the current trends in the Dreamcast community.

DCJY: Hi Bernie, firstly let me just say how much of an honour it is to have you grace our site with your virtual presence! As huge fans of the Dreamcast, it’s quite awesome to have the opportunity to speak with you first hand. Never did I think way back in late 1999 when I picked up my first Dreamcast, that in 20 years' time I'd be conversing with the man who helped create the console!

Bernie Stolar: No problem, thanks for asking me. I consider it an honour that a product I helped create still has a loyal fanbase to this day. Thank you for keeping the 'Dream' alive.
Bernie delivering the Dreamcast keynote at GDC 1999
To kick things off, I wondered if you could enlighten those readers who may not be familiar with who you are and what your role was with the Dreamcast?

I was President and Chief Operating Officer at SEGA of America from July 1996 to August 1999. I was hired by SEGA of Japan CEO, Hayao Nakayama. I conceived the idea of Dreamcast and hired Peter Moore, Chris Gilbert, and the entire product development team.

You were at Sega of America from 1996 to 1999, all the way through the Dreamcast’s most important and formative years - can you recall the very first time you heard the name ‘Dreamcast’?

I believe it was called 'Dural' and later 'Katana' at one point. I want to say May of 1998 was when I first heard the term 'Dreamcast.'
On the topic of the early days of Dreamcast, can you recall which came first - Dreamcast or NAOMI? Or were they developed in tandem?


I believe NAOMI was released first. If I remember correctly, Dreamcast came about at a time when we were switching from Model 3 arcade hardware to NAOMI. I remember this because, I was disappointed with the fact that the Dreamcast would not really be able to support ports from both arcade units. I had wanted ports of several licensed units, including Star Wars Trilogy and The Lost World: Jurassic Park series. I felt these would be very popular, especially in the American market. To answer your question though, yes they were developed in tandem, definitely with the thought in mind that many of the games such as Crazy Taxi and House of the Dead 2 would be ported to Dreamcast. As a side note, I believe we also licensed the NAOMI architecture to Capcom, Namco, and Taito.
Early Dreamcast concept designs
Just sticking with the origins of the Dreamcast, were there really two different concepts for the Dreamcast in development? There are plenty of forum posts and articles online that state that there were competing projects - one from SEGA of America called Black Belt which was 3Dfx based, and another from SEGA of Japan called Dural which was NEC PowerVR based. Can you comment on these projects and how it was decided that the Dural concept was the one that won? If so, how different do you think the 3Dfx system would have been?

I believe SEGA of America wanted the 3Dfx version and SEGA of Japan wanted the NEC PowerVR. Both made sense for different reasons. With 3Dfx, there were more resources and documentation available for development in the US and Europe. That and it was understood that development would be easier, especially for PC ports. The NEC PowerVR made NAOMI ports simple and was easy to program, however, it was not as well supported (yet) in the US. I doubt Model 3 games would have worked too well on either. Although there was a PowerVR chip shortage when the Dreamcast launched in Japan, both chips had their pluses and minuses. In the end, I'm not sure it would have made too much of a difference.
Famously, you moved from Sony’s PlayStation division to work with SEGA of America in 1996. You're quoted in a VentureBeat interview as stating that the Saturn needed to be killed off as soon as you arrived. What were your initial thoughts on the fledgling successor to the Saturn? Did you envisage that the Dreamcast would become a huge success based on the hardware specs?

When I went to SEGA, they needed a new hardware system because the systems that they had were not selling – all eight of them. Saturn was not being supported by SEGA the way it should have been. When I showed up, it was my idea to develop a new hardware system that had the ability to play online. Before signing with SEGA, I racked my brain on a way to salvage Saturn, but it was just too far gone and too expensive and difficult to develop for. SEGA was nearly bankrupt, they needed a new console and they needed it quick. The only options were to go big or go home.