New marketing Brings Xbox Brand to Life in Europe

LONDON, 18th November 2002 – One of the fastest-growing entertainment brands ever, Xbox continues to gain ground in Europe with a series of marketing initiatives designed to broaden the Xbox brand appeal in innovative ways and bring the Xbox Difference to life. Reaching beyond traditional advertising, Xbox marketing initiatives this Christmas use a variety of mould-breaking disciplines to engage current and potential customers and continue building the Xbox brand in an exciting and playful way.

Xbox launched in Europe on 14th March 2002 with an award-winning advertising campaign[1] (developed by Bartle Bogle Hegarty) and online brand experience, playmore.com. The campaign has been successful in building a consumer brand from scratch – brand tracking studies in Europe conducted by Microsoft show the Xbox brand enjoys a recall rate of 96% among European gamers.

Now that the Xbox installed base is growing and bringing in new Xbox fans outside of the committed gamer segment, new, non-traditional marketing activities are underway. These initiatives uniquely promote Xbox trialling and will clearly demonstrate the powerful features of Xbox to consumers:

“Difference” – an interactive DVD showcasing the unique features and abilities of Xbox

Playmore.com – a revitalisation of the much-lauded Xbox brand experience web site.

The Xbox MegaCruiser – a unique mobile brand experience for Xbox

Robbie Williams partnership – Xbox is one of the headline sponsors for Robbie’s first European tour in two years and is working with him on a range of other initiatives

These initiatives are backed by a substantial marketing budget, which will allow Xbox to reach consumers in ways that enable them to see, feel, hear and play for themselves.

“With these initiatives Xbox continues to break new ground as we build our brand in Europe,” said Neil Thompson, European Marketing Director, Xbox. “As one of the fastest-growing new consumer brands ever launched in Europe, we’ve made great headway into the European consciousness courtesy of our award-winning advertising campaign, which featured the ‘Champagne’ viral piece. Besides winning a number of prestigious awards, Champagne was one of the most-viewed viral marketing pieces ever – it’s impossible to provide completely accurate figures, but we know that Champagne was downloaded over one million different times from playmore.com and forwarded on many more times.

“But now it’s time to broaden the appeal of the Xbox brand in innovative ways,” said Thompson. “That’s not to say we won’t continue with activities that had been successful for us, like advertising. In fact, we have a new viral piece currently making the rounds, called Ear Tennis, that perfectly reflects and expands on the Xbox brand. All the initiatives seek to break new ground in what we do, whether in delivery or in content.

“Xbox is, simply put, the best value in video game systems available,” said Thompson, “with a strong portfolio of great games and unique features and abilities that offer more of what consumers want. We wanted to make those advantages clear to all consumers in Europe, in a way that is true to the Xbox brand – playful, inclusive, and innovative. These three new marketing initiatives do just that, interacting with gamers and further demonstrating the Xbox difference.”

“Difference”

The unique DVD, created with BBH and entitled ‘Difference’, aims to drive awareness of the superior features of the Xbox. Two million DVDs will be distributed to potential customers across Europe via specialist magazine cover mounts, direct mail, Xbox trial events, special events such as Stuff Live in the UK and a Vodaphone/Ferrari event in Greece, and through retail partnerships.

The ‘Xbox Difference’ is the unique set of features and abilities that sets Xbox apart from the competition. A built-in hard disc, together with unrivalled graphics and Dolby 5.1 surround sound, revolutionary gameplay, and top-quality DVD playback, lets gamers get even more from their Xbox. The Xbox Difference is further amplified by the advent of Xbox Live, the revolutionary online gaming service, which will be available in the UK France and Germany later this year.

The “Difference” DVD brings those features to life. A unique feature of the DVD is that it pauses at regular intervals to give the viewer the opportunity to interact with the film to select content that focuses on one of the product features of the Xbox. These features are grouped together according to the way they amplify the senses:

See More

MORE GRAPHICS POWER THAN ANY OTHER CONSOLE

– Montage of Xbox games that truly demonstrate state of the art graphics.

MORE MOVIES. IT’S NOT JUST GAMES – WATCH DVDs TOO

– Hollywood movie Trailers (The Hulk and Die Another Day) to show that gamers can view DVDs through Xbox.

Hear More

MORE ADVANCED SOUND WITH DOLBY DIGITAL 5.1

– A trailer for Brute Force that allows you to switch between Dolby 5.1 and standard audio settings so you can hear the difference.

MORE MUSIC – PUT YOUR FAVOURITE TRACKS INTO OUR GAMES

– Video clip to demonstrate that you can rip your own personal music CD’s to the hard disc and playback during gaming.

Feel More

MORE INNOVATIVE GAMEPLAY THANKS TO THE XBOX HARD DISC

– Highlights games that are only possible thanks to the built-in XboxTM hard disc

MORE OPPONENTS – PLAY’N’TALK ONLINE WITH XBOX LIVE

– Specially shot promotional video for Xbox Live, which also highlights voicemasking

– The world famous game developer, Peter Molyneux, talks exclusively about what makes the Xbox so unique

Additional content includes music videos from Gorillaz, Primal Scream, Fischerspooner and Ministry of Sound, plus game trailers to exclusively preview the awesome games coming soon to Xbox.

The DVD was co-developed and co-produced by AKQA, the digital communications agency, and BBH, the advertising agency of record for Xbox. The Difference film that serves as the UI for the DVD was directed by Daniel Levi of Independent Films, who has previously created spots for Xbox, Mercedes and Nike.

Playmore.com

The popular Xbox brand experience web site playmore.com will see a refresh as part of the overall Christmas marketing initiatives. Agency Republic and Lateral have developed a new look for the site, with a lighter colour scheme with more organic shapes integrated, to appeal to a broader audience. A new navigation system sees users playing their way through the site with a playful and intuitive series of actions designed to reinforce core brand messaging. Existing members of playmore.com will retain their user names and passwords.

As before, playmore.com offers users a variety of ways to play. Packed with “share-able” content that users can email around to friends, playmore.com will feature continually updated content that reinforces the Xbox brand values in a fun way.

A special 24-page “brandzine” based around the playmore.com refresh will be mailed to 10,000 influencers in the entertainment and media fields around Europe. The mailing challenges readers to look at life and play in new and different ways, in tune with playmore.com. The brandzine will be produced in three European languages.

“As the Xbox installed base grows, we felt it was time to refresh the playmore.com site to appeal to a new group of gamers,” said Thomas Schulze, European Online Manager, Xbox. “The lighter look and feel and refreshed content will resonate with the more mainstream gamer, who will be looking to Xbox to deliver gaming thrills this Christmas.”

The Xbox MegaCruiser

A unique mobile brand experience for Xbox, the Xbox MegaCruiser brings the ‘Xbox Difference’ to life by showing how gamers can ‘See More, Hear More, Feel More and Play More” with Xbox.

The Xbox MegaCruiser experience is designed to demonstrate just how different Xbox is in relation to its competitors in terms of sound quality, DVD capability, graphic resolution and online play. The Xbox MegaCruiser is formed from two massive trailer units, designed to mimic the look and feel of the console from the outside. Inside, 25 square metres of gaming offer a hands-on experience of the very latest software in single, dual-play and multi-play configurations all supported by Dolby 5.1 – a complete sensory experience. Eagerly-awaited games like Panzer Dragoon Orta, Unreal Championship and Splinter Cell let gamers get a first look at the hottest games of tomorrow, alongside current hits like Halo, Project Gotham Racing and Quantum Redshift.

In addition to game play, visitors will experience just how amazing DVD movies look on Xbox (hot movie trailers for films like Die Another Day will be shown regularly). Dolby 5.1 surround sound completes the experience, letting gamers see just how much this Xbox-only feature enhances gameplay.

The Xbox MegaCruiser will tour the major markets of UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain, targeting audiences at rock concerts, festivals, sporting events and retail locations. Hosts will be on hand to offer support and to capture data, and to distribute promotional materials.

Robbie Williams European Tour Sponsorship

Xbox is the joint headline sponsor of the upcoming Robbie Williams European Tour, which begins 28th June 2003 in Edinburgh and takes in 15 shows in eight countries. Xbox will provide Xbox demo pods at selected venues, and is also working with the other headline sponsor, smartTM, to develop some exciting surprises for Robbie fans.

In addition, a special Robbie Williams DVD Pack will be introduced in Germany. For €29.99 (the price of a DVD controller alone), gamers will get an Xbox DVD Controller and an exclusive Robbie Williams DVD. The DVD contains a special message from Robbie to Xbox gamers, plus exclusive unreleased tracks, B sides, and footage from the making of his latest album, “Escapology”. The pack is available in Germany from 15th November while stocks last.

“Robbie Williams is a great partner for Xbox,” said Thompson. “Like Xbox, Robbie is stylish, exciting and appeals to a wide audience. We’re thrilled to partner with him to help support his upcoming tour, at which Xbox will have a large presence. And as a gamer, Robbie is looking forward to partnering with his favourite video game system – Xbox.”