Interviews

Lara Croft Tomb Raider: Legend

Commercialising Ms. Croft - Eidos brand manager Matt Gorman on how Lara reaches way beyond gaming

Having been brand manager on both Deus Ex and Time Splitters, Matt Gorman did a pixel-perfect double jump off a wall and landed in the Lara Croft hot-seat. Governing all things Lara, and acting as relay between Crystal Dynamics and the Eidos marketing bods, he knows the sweaty aqua-marine T-shirt-wearer like no other...

So what's your job then, essentially?

Matt Gorman: It entails making branding and marketing sense, and having my eye on the ball for the entire Tomb Raider franchise. This includes (but isn't limited to) videogames, co-marketing deals, promotional deals, licensing deals, branding and marketing for all the Tomb Raider games - starting off with Legends.

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How did it feel to take on the responsibility of Ms Croft?

Matt Gorman: I was actually the US product manager on Angel Of Darkness for the final six months of work on the game - the project had gone on a long time and the previous manager had kind of lost steam, so I came in to do all of the marketing and PR.

This meant that when I became brand manager, I already had experience with Tomb Raider during what was perhaps its most challenging episode to date. So understanding the essence of what the brand was and what Lara Croft was, what she meant to her many fans, her being an icon - all of that knowledge gave me a perfect perspective on what this next Tomb Raider game had to be in everyone's minds.

What did you make of the films?

Matt Gorman: As far as the essence of the character is concerned, they did a pretty damn good job, from the casting decision - having Angelina Jolie in the role - I couldn't imagine anyone else championing the role like she did. The movies might not have been awesome, but the characterisation sure was - Angelina did a really great job on that.

Are we likely to be seeing more Lara brands on things like Lucozade?

Matt Gorman: Product placement in games is now rather commonplace - there are some products that make sense for having a relationship with Lara and there are opportunities when the essence of each product matches. Having said that, I think what you'll find is that we're going to be very careful about making partnerships with other brands - I hope we're not going to see any more really plastic, really blatant promotional opportunities.

The idea is that we don't want to whore her out - she's way too classy and way too sophisticated for us to do that. We're trying to develop the mental and psychological profile of Lara Croft to try and build her into a much more sophisticated three-dimensional entity - and that doesn't work very well if you have her wearing giant labels and doing really plastic promotions like that.

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In terms of Lara's image, how many times do you come across Lara being used in ways you wouldn't want to?

Matt Gorman: It's not too often - once every six months we come across something that's a bit borderline that we do contact people about. There's a very rabid following of Lara Croft - they really revere her quite a bit. There's just a few people out there who have a bit too much fun with her sometimes - it's some of these things that make us nervous that they might know where we live.

For the most part - as far as legal or copyright infringement is concerned, it's usually handled very amicably and very openly. Lara is a very classy character and people haven't been too quick to make money off her negatively.

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