A massive multiplayer water balloon fight that might exhaust the H20 supply of a small nation. A mind-boggling Xtreme double dutch jump rope jam. Is this what the next generation of videogames is all about? Technically, maybe not. But metaphorically, very much so, according to these scenarios from brand spots in Xbox's recent launch campaign for its next-gen 360 console, which purports to revolutionize not just gaming but living room entertainment as we know it. Created by an unusual multiple agency team comprised of agency of record McCann Erickson, El Segundo, Calif.-based boutique 72andSunny, interactive agency AKQA and Vermont-based design shop JDK (see Creativity, October '05) the overall effort extends a wide sprawl of TV, interactive and print centered on the simple tag, "Jump in."
"When you talk about revolutionizing your living room, we felt it was important to make a proper introduction that would allow people to form a relationship with the product," explains McCann co-CD Geoff Edwards. "The tagline is an invitational line." But aren't jump ropes and water balloons pretty far-removed from a videogame universe? Not really, since the idea is really about the social aspect of next-gen gaming, which happens to be one of the 360's strongest suits. "Its greatest advantage is its networkability; the fact that you've already got five million-plus online gamers and they've got these awesome games as a catalyst to bring people together and play together," says 72andSunndy co-CD John Boiler. "That's really the greatest thing we had to talk about-what happens when you get together with people and play."
As for the down-to-earth execution, which steers clear of hi-def graphics and instead relies almost solely on real-world stunts ("Jump Rope" was shot completely in-camera, in one take), "we wanted to celebrate the emotion behind playing games and not get too caught up in the battle of the hi-fi wizardry, even though Xbox 360 has that," says 72andSunny co-CD Glenn Cole. "Showing screenshots of things is not really at the center of what this movement is about." Adds McCann co-CD Scott Duchon, "On the brand spots specifically, we wanted to tap into this childlike feeling. If you're a gamer, you'd probably be expecting really hardcore special effects, but we're also talking to a broader audience. Xbox enthusiasts have already lined up to buy the box outside of Wal-Mart and Best Buy like it was Star Wars. We still want to give them a reason to believe in the brand, but we also wanted to open up the aperture a bit and get those sitting on the fence to understand that this is something they could relate to in a human way."
While the brandwork has an Everyman feel, the title work covers the more technical endowments of the new device and its games, like the hi-def sweat dripping down Shaq's face in NBA2K or tiny cobblestones from Call of Duty 2. The print work-stark, graphic images that capture the clean graceful lines of the console-takes a decidedly different, more design-minded approach than the television spots. "When you see the 'Jump in' at the back of a brand spot, you get that it wants you to jump into an uplifting social experience, but when you see it against a picture of the console, it dimensionalizes the line," says Duchon. "Part of the invitational quality starts at the product itself," Cole adds. "It's not the dark box of evil, it's this light, optimistic thing with a graceful shape and you can connect to your iPod, your digital camera. Something that was once considered a teenager's tool is now a sophisticated piece of equipment you want to show off." Meanwhile, online, diehards have received more cryptic invitations, via AKQA-created game-focused virals and websites like Xbox360origen.com, which featured contests that allowed lucky gamers from around the globe entry into the ultra-exclusive launch event held in Palmdale, Calif., last month. All this is just the beginning. "It's a yearlong, ongoing thing," Duchon explains. "There are more titles coming out, which is super important. Proof is going to be in the games, and there's a lot of excitement around [online gaming service] Xbox Live. No one's resting on their laurels. 'Jump in' certainly cannot be the end of the introduction." (AD)
Agency: McCann Erickson/72andSunny/AKQA/JDK Design CD: John Boiler, Glenn Cole,Scott Duchon,Geoff Edwards, Mauro Alencar, Michael Jager CD/CW: Scott Duchon CD/AD:Geoff Edwards Agency Producer: David Verhoef Production Director/DP: Frank Budgen/Gorgeous Enterprises/Anonymous Content EP: Helen Kenny, Lisa Margulis Producers: Alicia Bernard, Scott Friske Editors: Angus Wall, Kirk Baxter/Rock Paper Scissors VFX: A52 Sound Design: Eddie Kim/740 Sound Design Titles/Graphics: Motion Theory