Xbox’s Alan Wake creeps out with OOH

The launch campaign for Microsoft Xbox's new game Alan Wake focuses on creepily-themed OOH in Toronto - designed to draw in non-gamers to its X-Files-esque mystique.

Alan Wake is having a rough time on his vacation, and his OOH totally reflects it.

The new eponymous videogame from Xbox follows a mystery writer who goes on holidays to small-town Bright Falls with his wife – who then promptly disappears, leaving Alan to deal with visions of his creepy characters come to life as he grapples with a mystery that’s far too real. Not wanting to leave Alan alone to solve things himself, Xbox is seeking to lure in gamers to its ‘other’ world with a Toronto-based OOH campaign with some seriously creepy vibes.

With media by UM Canada, creative by MacLaren McCann and activation by Mosaic, the campaign uses 3D installations, superboards, murals, transit station advertising and wild postings to pique the public’s interest in Alan Wake’s world. The focus is on Stephen King-style eerie: a 3D nightlight mural at King and Spadina projects a coffin-shaped glow at night, transit advertising that features a lone flashlight and the phrase ‘In case of psychotic lumberjack, break glass,’ and a superboard sundial that measures not the time, but your time left to live.

Given the cinematic nature of the game, OOH seemed like the best way to reach its target demographic – and the non-gamers it hoped to lure in with the ambiguous-yet-mysterious campaign, Jeff Rivait, product manager, Xbox games & accessories, tells MiC.

‘The approach we took was to launch this game in a similar fashion to a blockbuster movie release. Recognizing that the core target is ‘out and about’ and active within the city, we knew a strong out-of-home component would resonate,’ he explains. ‘The goal was to create intrigue around Alan Wake and peak the curiosity of those that wouldn’t pay attention to traditional videogame advertising.’

The projection, billboards and transit advertising was also accompanied by wild postings – produced by Italian LSD photographers – complemented the other media, all of which is set to run through June.

The creepiness doesn’t stop with outdoors. In an activation designed by Toronto-based Mosaic, a number of bars around Toronto have been Alan Wake-ified, putting full-bladdered bar-goers into Alan’s messed-up world. As Rivait tells it, customers certainly won’t be getting what they expect when they hit the loo.

‘A typical and ordinary scene awaits those entering the men’s room, until bright light turns to black light and the room’s true identity is revealed. With the use of invisible UV paint, dark, threatening words suddenly appear on the walls and doors. Blood stains are splashed and smattered about with smeared hand prints tell a horrific tale of what may have taken place. On the mirror and walls, roughly smeared, is written: ‘Stay in the light!’ along with the mysterious URL,

There is no reference to the game, or Xbox, Rivait says, and after 30 seconds, the bathroom returns to normal. The goal, he says, is to give consumers a ‘quick taste of the emotional rollercoaster that is Alan Wake.’ The installations have been in place for two weeks, and will remain open for the rest of this week.