campaignlive.co.uk, Thursday, 28 February 2002 12:00AM
The new European campaign for Microsoft's Xbox has captured the imagination of gamers through its use of memorable imagery, impressive special effects and powerful creative work by Fred & Farid of BBH, London.
The spots aim to capture the spirit of the brand, defining its tagline "Play more" as the campaign develops. Two spots have been created, shot by Daniel Kleinmann of Spectre, before Framestore CFC polished the look.
'Champagne' is the first spot to be unleashed upon the public. It shows a woman on a hospital bed delivering a baby. Her efforts propel the infant through the air, out the window and across the expanse of the countryside. The child grows older as his altitude rises, reaching adulthood then middle age as he flies through the air. Old age arrives on a declining path as the body crash lands into a grave. The spot ends with the tagline: "Life is short. Play more."
"We had to find unique ideas and imagery to set the Xbox apart from its competitor PlayStation 2," explain Fred & Farid. "It was important to reach the target audience and communicate the concept that play is as important as work."
'Champagne' broke at the end of January via a series of viral, TV, cinema and online executions emphasising the 'Play More' theme. "The target group was young adults who spend a lot of time on the internet and various other channels," continue Fred & Farid. "Not only was it important to reach that crowd, but also to capture their imagination. When our audience sends the spot to various friends via e-mail, it's proof that our idea is working."
The campaign addresses a change in people's attitudes toward gaming today - those that can, do; those that can't, preach.
"Gaming is now a social event with people playing together on a network, online or even with their own family," explain Fred & Farid. "We wanted to express the feeling that people don't play enough in life. We all spend our days experiencing a lot of pressures and demands, but once we relax and play we become beautiful and free. This spontaneity takes us back to our childhood and that's the basic concept of the campaign."
"It was a technical challenge to get everything to look real in the newer commercial," explains CFC Framestore's compositing supervisor, William Bartlett, on 'Mosquito,' the spot which has just been released. Ten 3D supervisors and two compositors burned the midnight oil to deliver the work on time. "We performed various effects to separate the background from the action, especially with the wide screen shots. The spot is totally wacky and weird, plus a very simple and effective idea. The brief was to create a palpable reality to balance against the amusing and quirky imagery."
"'Champagne' expresses that life is very short, so you have to prioritise and give time and place to playing," add Fred & Farid. "'Mosquito' goes a step further by saying that play is a very natural gift, a way of communicating and approaching life."
The Xbox has already proven its worth in North America and will be available in Europe on 14th March. The market is dominated by PlayStation 2 and Microsoft has already accepted that it cannot match its rival for numbers sold. It hopes instead to establish itself through its online capabilities. "This is a marathon, not a sprint," says Jay Allard, managing director of Xbox.
Fred & Farid aren't concerning themselves with sums but instead have entered the spirit of the brand wholeheartedly: "It's a way of communicating, of approaching life and of being a part of your environment. It's a gift to be embraced by everyone, so leave work, get on an Xbox and enjoy!"
This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk