Published on .

April 23, 2001

By Tobi Elkin

NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Microsoft Corp. today announced that Taco Bell would be its first national promotional partner for its Xbox video game console.

The software giant's co-marketing deal with the Tricon Global Restaurants fast-feeder was handled by GMR Marketing, New York, and is the first of several planned alliances. Additional tie-ins are expected to be announced next month at the Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3, in Los Angeles.

"We picked Taco Bell because our target audiences have a great amount in common," said John O'Rourke, director of sales and marketing for Xbox. Microsoft is targeting primarily 16- to 26-year-old men.

Late-night gaming binges
"We discovered just how much we shared, not only in who our target audience is but in our whole approach to marketing and the passion for the product," Mr. O'Rourke explained. Plus, he added, "gamers keep ungodly weird hours" and no doubt find Taco Bell appealing for late-night gaming binges.

The Xbox and Taco Bell promotion will kick off this fall during the console's launch behind a $500 million global marketing campaign. While Mr. O'Rourke declined to comment on the specifics of the promotion, it's expected to take the form of a rebate, and possibly a software title bundled with a meal. He said Microsoft and Taco Bell will share advertising responsibilities for the promotion.

Interpublic Group of Cos.' McCann-Erickson Worldwide, New York, handles Xbox advertising.

The promotion will extend to more than 7,200 Taco Bell restaurants in the U.S. and Canada.

Copyright April 2001, Crain Communications Inc.

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