Shopper Innovation Awards: Xbox reveals mysterious consoles

The brand asked gamers to proclaim their support (and garnered pledges from more than 130,000 fans) to help unlock the consoles for a surprise.

This story appears in the May 2015 issue of strategy.

Gold: Brand New! 
Bronze: Targeting

Microsoft was set to launch its Xbox One in late 2013. However, getting gamer attention was going to be difficult as its competitor PlayStation also planned to release a next-gen device around the same time.

The company decided to target its diehard fans and invite them to spread support for Xbox organically. Instead of launching the product and telling fans it was amazing, the brand and its agencies TraffikGroup, Publicis and SMG invited gamers to help launch the device for Microsoft through the “One Source” campaign.

Weeks before the product launch, a giant-sized Xbox One console appeared in Canadian cities overnight.

Using the Xbox Live network, the brand asked gamers to pledge their support for Xbox One. If it received enough pledges, Microsoft promised to unlock the mysterious console and reveal a unique experience.

On Halloween, the first console was unlocked in Vancouver, revealing a horde of zombies. A hero also emerged and urged the audience to help him defeat the undead. Once the “battle” concluded, fans were invited to demo Dead Rising 3 (a zombie-themed game they had just seen come to life) inside the console.

One week later, the console travelled to Montreal and revealed luxury race cars. Fans were whisked away to a nearby track where Forza 5, another launch title, was recreated for fans to play in real life. The following weekend, Toronto hosted an epic battle between Romans and barbarians as a preview for Ryse: Son of Rome, another flagship game. Video footage was uploaded online and on Xbox Live to share the events with fans who were unable to be there in person.

By launch, more than 130,000 fans pledged their support, and within the first 18 days on the market, Xbox One averaged 111,111 units sold per day.


Advertiser: Microsoft (Xbox)
Creative agencies: Publicis, TraffikGroup
Media agency: Starcom MediaVest Group
Sr. marketing manager: Christina Verdurman
Marketing manager: Kerri Anne Dixon