Xbox presented their media agency UM with quite a challenge. The new game for the Kinect had already been showcased through TV spots, online videos and advertorials but they wanted to focus on the demonstration because they knew one key insight. Once people see the Kinect technology in action, they want to ‘jump in’ and have a go for themselves. Microsoft Xbox is one of the world’s most exciting and innovative brands, and the Kinect technology has transcended the boundaries of what is and isn’t possible in gaming. UM had to do the same with media and deliver a pioneering response that went beyond the norm.
The TV solution lay in delivering a Kinect Sports trial experience directly into millions of homes across the UK to showcase the product and game in a way that no other medium would allow.
There was already a relationship in place with Sky and Xbox Kinect with the first ever product placement deal in which footage of the guests on the show A League of Their Own playing with the Kinect was shown but UM wanted to go further. Research had shown that the target audience had developed a close connection with the show and it was perceived as a great family entertainment experience. The A League of Their Own brand footprint matched that of Kinect Sports perfectly as a light-hearted, competitive sports showcase.
UM and Xbox wanted to build on this relationship by developing a symbiotic link between the show and Kinect Sports Season 2. This time however, they needed to go beyond the branded idents and the product placement and deliver true product integration into the show itself. In an industry first, UM signed an exclusive TV sponsorship deal with Sky 1 and A League of Their Own and incorporated a Kinect Sports challenge as part of the fabric of the show.
Working closely with numerous production and creative teams, UM ensured that Kinect Sports Season 2 was represented in authentic fashion and that the message they delivered would fit in perfectly with the tone and style of the show, matching its footprint of witty banter, humour and fun competitiveness.
As one of the challenges within the show, celebrity stars James Corden and John Bishop raced each other in a 100m sprint playing Kinect Sports Season 2. It was a pioneering move in the sensitive area of TV legislation, showing just how flexible the product placement rules are. Never before in the UK had a piece of branded product placement been interwoven with programmatic content so seamlessly. The result? An entertaining, in-home trial experience for millions of viewers with added celebrity kudos. In addition to this, a bespoke Xbox Kinect Sports trial area was set up in the middle of the studio audience and footage of the audience was included in the show’s pre-titles further extending the product integration. In total almost six minutes of branded placement ran across the series.
- Kinect Sports Season 2 was the best-selling Kinect game of the year (Source: GfK Chart-track)
- Kinect Sports Season 2 grew the Kinect Sports franchise by 47% (Source: GfK Chart-track)
- A League of Their Own attracted 7.8m viewers across the series up 35% vs the previous series
- The initial investment paid back over £1m in media value
- UM and Xbox won the Thinkbox TV Planning Awards 2012 Best Use of TV Innovation award
We’re proud of the fact that Xbox is seen as an innovator within the media space, where creativity and technology meet. Over the past year, we have pushed the boundaries of TV to make Xbox one of the pioneers of product placement in the UK. Our partnership with SKY not only highlighted Xbox’s ‘challenger’ DNA, it also provided the perfect showcase for Kinect technology, and helped us take Kinect Sports 2 into millions of living rooms across the UK.
Paul Evans Head of Media EMEA, Xbox