The Brand experience is about designing a sensory experience that makes people interact with the brand. It  also brings them into a lasting and meaningful relationship with a brand.

It’s a creative way to bring brands to life. And it’s usually done through engaging people, making them involved in the experience, and offering them something new to live.

When Xbox planned to advertise for FIFA 18, which was a crucial event for the brand. They faced an unexpected decision by Playstation and FIFA. Playstation bought all the marketing rights for the game with a big fortune. They secured exclusive marketing rights for FIFA 18.

Meaning while their competitor had the right to advertise freely for the game, Xbox had to advertise the game without mentioning FIFA or showing any product detail. They couldn’t even show someone playing the game, so how can gamers know that Xbox offers FIFA 18?

How did Xbox market a forbidden game?

The answer was Brand Experience & Activation, it wasn’t easy, but it was the key.

They decided to make people experience the Xbox either at the football stadium, at home watching a live broadcast, or via social channels. How?

Xbox first worked with McCann London agency, and they decided to team up with Real Madrid and a top FIFA gamer. And instead of telling people to buy the game, they decided to teach them how to play it. Using real football matches, not the virtual game, and using also the skills of the players and the corresponding Xbox buttons.

Xbox attached their gaming brand to actual football matches, making gamers know that they are talking about FIFA 18 without explicitly mentioning it.

They turned real-life passes, tackles, and shots, dribbles, and every possible combination on the pitch into written Xbox combinations in real-time, in the advertising banners of the stadium.

They covered the Juventus vs Real Madrid match. And made people live the experience, and help them re-create the players’ skills on Xbox. It was useful for all the football and gaming fans, making them engage more with the brand.

This way FIFA was linked with Xbox without ever mentioning the game or contravening the marketing exclusivity deal.

The campaign was not just on the pitch and its side advertising banners, but the match’s commentators were describing the game with Xbox commands.

Even newspaper match reports translated the match highlights into commands since sports fans love reading about the big matches. It was an innovative way of offering an alternative perspective on the match.

This fresh brand experience allowed Xbox to own real football moves. It also made Sony’s Playstation imitate them in their social media, by posting Playstation’s commands of some of goals and moves on the pitch. Even fans started to post videos of them using Xbox commands.

Xbox’s Campaign’s Results 

This campaign was very successful. It had over 100 million impressions, and reached 650 million spectators per match (x 12 matches). It also won many awards in 2018:

  • Cannes Lions: Silver Brand Experience & Activation: Media
  • Cannes Lions: Bronze Brand Experience & Activation: Sponsorship and Brand Activation
  • Cannes Lions: Bronze Social & Influencer: Sponsorship and Brand Activation
  • Clio Awards: Gold Branded Content: Other
  • Clio Awards: Gold Direct: Out of home.
Client: Microsoft

Product: Xbox / FIFA 2018

Campaign: Football Decoded 

Agency: McCann London, UK
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