Xbox works it to the max

That Xbox 360 would sell out quickly when it launched Nov. 22 was a foregone conclusion. The fact that Xbox treats its gamers - males 18 to 34 - with intelligence, and delivered on the 'living entertainment experience, powered by human energy' promise during launch also gave its marketing partners rub-off props for the cred the brand emanates.

That Xbox 360 would sell out quickly when it launched Nov. 22 was a foregone conclusion. The fact that Xbox treats its gamers – males 18 to 34 – with intelligence, and delivered on the ‘living entertainment experience, powered by human energy’ promise during launch also gave its marketing partners rub-off props for the cred the brand emanates.

Xbox Canada marketing head Jason Anderson says he borrowed from the holiday blockbuster marketing script when planning his three-tiered pre-, launch and post-launch strategy. Some promotional media weight behind the launch, for which Microsoft is spending ‘beer money,’ was carried by partners involved in all aspects of this highly integrated effort – typically, co-consumption brands. (To the tune of 15% of what Microsoft is spending on brand weight.)

A Pepsi and Doritos ‘Be the First To Play’ contest leveraged exposure on title sponsor MuchMusic, and Xbox 360 entered grocery stores with contest standees and on-pack promos for a console-an-hour giveaway. It also created a new co-branded product with Bell Canada, sold at Best Buy. People who sign up for a 12-month contract with Sympatico get a whack of Xbox Live accessories.

One of the big pre-launch gambits that sponsors had access to was the Xbox 360 Experience, a series of gaming lounges set up in vacant retail spaces in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. Anderson says they were purposefully mum about it at first, to let gamers discover it themselves. They also did wild postings with ads that emulated typical street pole fare – but with xbox360.ca as the contact listed. Kids were stealing flyers as they went up, and in a Canadian-only initiative, the site has a make-your-own poster feature. Virals to tout the launch were another Canuck contribution.

Bell Mobility and Samsung played along, as did West 49, which distributed rave cards. Anderson says the two partners are working to integrate Xbox into West 49′s new concept stores.

Samsung and West 49 also kicked in prizing for gamers who figured out that numbers displayed on the Xbox site were actually GPS co-ordinates for a street corner where they found a poster, entitling them to a skateboard or MP3 player.

Anderson says Microsoft looks to tie in with co’s that offer ‘social experiences,’ and that he turns down 95% of offers. But as Xbox aims to broaden its demo, for instance with the fastest-growing group, women, there should be more opps. The goal is to double the 22 million Xbox base.

The ‘Mostly mass’ advertising stage hit at launch, and includes two global console spots and three title adverts. Agencies that worked on the launch include MacLaren McCann, Capital C, CIM, High Road and Traffik.