New Xbox Effort Seeks To Change Hardware's Image

Xbox tv download and storage capabilitiesDon't call Xbox 360 a video game console, but rather the brains for the entertainment center in your home. That's the message behind Microsoft's latest advertising and marketing campaign aimed at changing the hardware's image.

Microsoft executives have been talking up the box's expanded movie and TV download and storage capabilities for more than a year. With the "single largest investment" in the pocket of its marketers, the company aims to tout the "entertainment center" message to consumers loud and clear.

"Our customers will always be hardcore gamers, but this is an opportunity to move beyond to serve casual gamers and consumers who want other types of entertainment, which extends into the family," says Charlotte Stuyvenberg, GM of marketing and communications services for Xbox at Microsoft.



"This campaign is bigger than the one we did for 'Halo 3,' because the strategy and the message won't change any time soon. This campaign will evolve into the new fiscal year, which begins after June 2009."

Broadening Microsoft's message could capture more market share. Colin Sebastian, senior research analyst at Lazard Capital Markets, says Microsoft clearly wants consumers to view the Xbox 360 as the platform that connects them to the Internet from their living room.

"Trends are moving toward providing consumers more digital content in their homes through a variety of Internet-connected platforms," he says. "PS3 connects to the Internet, but Sony has long delayed a connected virtual world called Home where you can download content."

Home, Sony's 3D networked community that analysts expect to emerge from beta this fall, remains one of a countless number of collaborative, content and storage platforms to emerge from numerous rivals. Sebastian says Microsoft will do well if it can convince consumers that Xbox 360 offers connected services.

T.A.G. / McCann SF, McCann Erickson London, Universal McCann SF / NY, Wunderman Seattle, and Edelman Seattle were responsible for creating the TV spots that are scheduled to hit the UK in October. They began rolling out in the other European nations and in the U.S.

Five TV ads showcase the diverse experiences available on Xbox 360. The spots highlight some of the platform's most popular games such as "Rock Band 2," "Guitar Hero World Tour," and "Lego Batman." It also features the movies "I Am Legend" and "Sex and the City" on Xbox Live Marketplace, an HD VOD service.

Each thought-provoking scenario attempts to convey a sense that the experience cannot exist without the Xbox. The first half of each spot focuses on the human face and the emotional experience in an attempt to create an intimate connection with the viewer. The music begins slowly, drawing in the viewer with acoustic instruments and simple human responses like whistling and clapping. The camera pans around the person's head. Both the music and the look on the person's face intensify. Fireworks, balloons, and shooting stars appear.

The camera reveals a tighter shot of the back of the head. The viewer doesn't see the back, the hair and the neck, but rather the magical thoughts the person thinks. The payoff: "Live Your Moment" in the Xbox experience.

T.A.G. created the "Xbox experience" by building the "inside the head" sets as miniatures rather than using computer-generated art.

The "Live Your Moment" spots--a collaboration between T.A.G. and Radical Media director Daniel Askill--also extend into print, out of home, POS and digital marketing.

Stuyvenberg says to look for Microsoft to tap into emerging technologies like mobile marketing, RFID, near field communications, and 2D barcodes to expand the campaign.

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