Xbox Kinects with consumers

On the heels of its biggest game debut ever with Halo: Reach, the tech company gets ready to battle Wii in the full-body gaming experience with Kinect.

There’s still more than a month before Microsoft’s new Xbox 360 Kinect feature is released, but the tech company is committed to spending the next five weeks building buzz.

Just two weeks after the Halo: Reach campaign launched – one of the largest in the company’s history – it’s going even bigger for Kinect, a motion-sensing 3D camera that users can add to their Xbox console, which allows them to use their body as a controller.

On Friday in Toronto, Microsoft opened the first Kinect for Xbox 360 Experience, an open-to-the-public testing ground of the new controller-free system. Handled by Toronto-based Mosaic, the hubs are designed to get people to use Kinect in a hands-on environment, says Eric Charles, marketing communications manager, Microsoft Canada. A similar hub will open in Montreal in mid-October, accompanied by in-store demonstrations across the country.

‘It’s a step-up from what other brands would do in terms of profiling a product,’ he says. ‘We’ve rented out a two-storey building in downtown Toronto where you can walk in and have a full Kinect experience. I’ve never done anything like this and I’m super excited – this is just the start.’

In Toronto, the Xbox 360 Experience is across from the Eaton Centre on Yonge Street. Up the street at Yonge-Dundas Square, a video billboard will live-stream 360 Experience participants playing the new games and encouraging people in the square to head down to try the games out for themselves.

McLaren McCann, of Toronto, handled the creative and the media buy for the Kinect campaign. The placement of the ads won’t be typical of large Xbox campaigns.

‘Kinect will be different because it’s not just for males between the ages of 18 and 34,’ Charles says. ‘We’re going after young adults, young women, we have a product that appeals to a wide variety of families…It gives us the opportunity to advertise in a place like Disney or or YTV, which we’d never go after with a product like Halo.’

Though the media plan hasn’t been finalized, Charles says there will be an large-scale TV and online campaign, with public executions across the country.