XBOX 360 gamer media

The XBOX 360 launched today, and the ramp up to the new console hitting the shelves at midnight entailed a fair bit of inventive media tactics, forcing the gamers out there to use their noggins and decode some fairly cryptic messages.

One of the big pre-launch gambits was the XBOX 360 Experience, a series of gaming lounges set up in vacant retail spaces in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. Xbox Canada head of marketing, Jason Anderson, says they were purposefully mum about it for the first week, to let the gaming community discover it for themselves, in true game style. The company also adopted a wild posting media strategy to get the word out, with ads that emulated typical street pole fare -- but with a twist. One used car ad seemed quite normal, except the car was crashed and xbox360.ca was a contact listed; some of the posters featured characters from games, in typical Lost- style formats, while a handyman-style ad touted Alien Firearm Repair. Anderson says the posters were so popular that the kids were barely waiting for the sign posters to step away from the pole.

Part of the promotional media weight behind the launch, for which Microsoft is spending 'beer money,' came from a suite of partners that were involved in all aspects of the pre- and post-endeavours - typically, co-consumption brands. A Pepsi and Doritos 'Be the First To Play' contest was a big piece of it, leveraging Much exposure and bringing XBOX 360 into the grocery space with contest standees and on-pack promos for a console-an-hour giveaway. This actually sparked gamer blogs plotting the best online entry strategy. MuchMusic was title sponsor of the launch.

The XBOX 360 launched today, and the ramp up to the new console hitting the shelves at midnight entailed a fair bit of inventive media tactics, forcing the gamers out there to use their noggins and decode some fairly cryptic messages.

One of the big pre-launch gambits was the XBOX 360 Experience, a series of gaming lounges set up in vacant retail spaces in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. Xbox Canada head of marketing, Jason Anderson, says they were purposefully mum about it for the first week, to let the gaming community discover it for themselves, in true game style. The company also adopted a wild posting media strategy to get the word out, with ads that emulated typical street pole fare — but with a twist. One used car ad seemed quite normal, except the car was crashed and xbox360.ca was a contact listed; some of the posters featured characters from games, in typical Lost- style formats, while a handyman-style ad touted Alien Firearm Repair. Anderson says the posters were so popular that the kids were barely waiting for the sign posters to step away from the pole.

Part of the promotional media weight behind the launch, for which Microsoft is spending ‘beer money,’ came from a suite of partners that were involved in all aspects of the pre- and post-endeavours – typically, co-consumption brands. A Pepsi and Doritos ‘Be the First To Play’ contest was a big piece of it, leveraging Much exposure and bringing XBOX 360 into the grocery space with contest standees and on-pack promos for a console-an-hour giveaway. This actually sparked gamer blogs plotting the best online entry strategy. MuchMusic was title sponsor of the launch.

Anderson says promotional media represents about 15% of what they’re spending on brand weight. Bell Mobility and Samsung also came in as part of the Experience, as well as West 49, which distributed rave cards to promote the launch. The companies kicked in prizing for those gamers enterprising enough to figure out that a series of numbers displayed on the XBOX site were actually GPS co-ordinates for a street corner. On the street corner was a poster, entitling them to lay claim to a skateboard or MP3 player.

Some made-in-Canada components to the campaign include a make-your-own poster function on the site, which could be posted if XBOX likes it, and virals teasing the launch party. Now the ‘mostly mass’ advertising kicks in, with two global TV spots for the console, and a series of title ads. A promo with Bell Mobility and Samsung around a character from Perfect Dark Zero promotes that game as well, and entails screensavers and rings from this prequel to mega-title Perfect Dark.

After the last big launch around Halo 2, Anderson forged a Borg-like virtual agency called Element 54, which regularly meets as a group to discuss all marketing, resulting in this cunningly- integrated 360 launch. The agencies include: MacLaren McCann, Capital C, CIM, High Road and Traffik.