Sega TV (or Canal Pirata Sega in Spain) was a prodominantly European advertising campaign used by Sega during the early 1990s. It was created by London-based advertising agency WCRS, masterminded by Sega UK marketing directors Phil Ley and Simon Morris, and featuring English actor Steven O'Donnell (the Barber) and Welsh actor Peter Wingfield (Jimmy, the cybernetically enhanced gamer).
Sega TV was a mock pirate television station, which among showing bizarre films and shows frequently advertised the Sega Mega Drive, Sega Mega-CD and Sega 32X. It is considered by many to have been quite a successful campaign, being the European equivalent of Segata Sanshiro or the Sega Scream. Sega TV should not be confused with Sega Channel, a real television channel promoted by Sega.
Sega TV claimed to be the first "interactive channel", and was generally meant to be loud and abnoxious to counteract Nintendo's quite pedestrian marketing campaign in this region. It is possible that it was inspired by the 1987 Max Headroom broadcast signal intrusion, perhaps the most famous attempt at hijacking a television channel for a short period of time.
Sega TV's "mascot" was the "Sega Pirate", who was seen in many television advertisements, as well as in European promotional videos and occasionally in magazines. There was a limited edition Sega Game Gear bundle with Sega Pirate branding, and it appears on the cover of Sega Ages: Volume 1 for the Sega Saturn.
Right Said Fred's 1994 single, Wonderman, used in conjunction with Sega Europe to promote the release of Sonic the Hedgehog 3, features the Sega TV studio and Steven O'Donnell in its music video. The single only reached #55 in the UK singles chart, though was included as part of Now That's What I Call Music! 27.
In Spain, Canal Pirata Sega marketing was given away (dubbed in Spanish language) in VHS form as ¡Atencion! Mezcla Explosiva: Especial Eternal Champions and Si Tienes Mega Drive ¡Riete del Mundo!. These tapes were included with issues of Hobby Consolas magazine.
Both the Sega TV and the Sega Pirate were axed when the company's focus shifted to the Sega Saturn. According to Sega Europe Saturn project manager Jeremy Crisp, video game consumers had matured with the start of the 32-bit generation, and were less likely to respond to "yoof marketing", wanting a more sophisticated approach instead. As such, the Sega TV campaign was considered unsuitable by late 1995.
Another cited reason was the health of the video game market around this transition period. Hardware sales dropped dramatically during 1995 in preparation for the next generation of systems, and advertising budgets followed suit. Moreover the Saturn was initially priced at more than four times the price of a Mega Drive in 1995 (£399.99 in the UK, dropping to £299.99 for Christmas), which meant focus needed to shift towards consumers who could afford to buy the console - typically older demographics.
Sonic the Comic included "Pirate S.T.C." comics strips, based off Sega TV. The single story arc was running from issue #28 to issue #33. It was one of the only comic strips not based off videogame in Sonic the Comic, another one being about Megadroid, the mascot of the Comic.
Cyber Razor Cut (UK)
Jack Spannerhands (UK)
Jack the Squeezer (UK)
The Barber (UK)
Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (UK)
Howdedodat Spot (UK)
Test 1 (UK)
Test 2 (UK)
Just About Live From Potsdam (UK)
Planet of the Pigs (UK)
Problem Spot (Street Fighter II) (UK)
Jurassic Park (UK)
Global Gladiators (UK)
Weather Spot (Game Gear) (UK)
Sonic the Hedgehog Spinball (UK)
Sugar Puffs (UK)