Spotted! Microsoft unleashes the dead for Xbox One

The electronics co's stunt brought characters from the game Dead Rising 3 to the streets of downtown Vancouver and was supported by an interactive ad on Microsoft Canada's home page.

Microsoft Canada’s experiential campaign for the Xbox One took a spooky turn Thursday night when a horde of undead was unleashed on the downtown streets of Vancouver.

As part of the Canadian made, national “One Source” campaign ahead of the Nov. 22 console launch date, around 100 “zombies” emerged from a giant replica Xbox that had been placed on Wednesday at the corner of Nelson and Seymour Streets, creating a spectacle for passersby who had been drawn to the spot by a live countdown at the site, on Xbox 360′s dashboard and at Xbox.ca.

A man dressed up as protagonist Nick Ramos from the not-yet released Dead Rising 3 videogame appeared on the scene and doled out foam “weapons” to consumers, who “fought” off the zombie horde.

The stunt was the climax of an integrated campaign that started on Monday when Microsoft Canada released a short teaser video on Xbox.ca  alluding to the 40- by 20-foot replica Xbox One being built. Around noon on Wednesday, the company revealed the replica’s location and sent out a call to action to its community  - via Xbox 360 dashboards, Xbox.ca and social media – to pledge their Xbox Gamertag (a gamer’s username on Microsoft’s Xbox Live) to unlock the box and reveal the experience inside. Consumers could pledge their gamer tags in person at the replica Xbox, online or on the Xbox dashboard and were also promised physical and digital rewards.

JulianFok_ 002In addition, an interactive “Twitter swarm” ad was developed and executed on Thursday by Microsoft Advertising on MSN Canada‘s home page, encouraging visitors to the site to click on the partially covered ad and tweet the hashtag #XboxOneSource to unlock an image related to the Dead Rising 3 game, panel by panel. Once the complete ad was unveiled, visitors could click on it to visit the Xbox.ca/onesource site.

“It’s really about building word-of-mouth and social collaboration and about unlocking content as a community,” says Jennifer Abbatiello, creative solutions at Microsoft Advertising.

The “One Source” campaign, created with agency partners including Starcom MediaVest Group, TraffikGroup, Mosaic, Wunderman and Digital Production Services, with PR handled by Veritas Communications, is the largest that Xbox Canada has done in its history, says Nicole Fawcette, category manager, Xbox games and accessories, Microsoft. The campaign will tour other cities in the lead-up to a console launch event.

Nicole Fawcette, category manager, Xbox games and accessories, Microsoft says the company wanted to empower and leverage its community to take part in and help generate buzz around the console launch.

“We believe in empowering that community and creating with them,” Fawcette says.

Microsoft went with the zombie theme in Vancouver on Halloween to promote the Dead Rising 3 videogame, in which gamers try to guide the protagonist through a world filled with the undead, in part because the game’s developer, Capcom in Vancouver, developed Dead Rising 3 for the console. The immersive experiential campaign also builds on a U.S. created TV spot by  CP+B, “Invitation,” in which characters from Xbox One games appear in the real world to invite people to immerse themselves in the game.

Following the interactive demonstration, passersby had the opportunity to be “zombified” by makeup artists and to have their photo taken posing with a replica weapon from the game, which they can then share on social media. Fourteen gaming stations are housed inside of the semi-trailer-sized box, where consumers can test out the new console and titles including Dead Rising 3, Forza Motorsport5  and Ryse: Son of Rome. The installation will stay in Vancouver until 10 p.m. on Friday.