2018 Brand Experience & Activation


Category C04. Competitions & Promotional Games
Name Company Position
Lisa Humphries Microsoft Senior Global Product Marketing Manager
Jack White Microsoft Xbox Global Integrated Marketing Manager
Michael Flatt Microsoft Xbox Global Integrated Marketing Lead
Gavin Spicer Edelman Group Client Director
Jonathan Halliwell Edelman Account Lead - Assembly for Edelman
James Donovan Edelman Associate Director
Mary Mitchell Edelman Associate Director
Indy Selverajah Edelman Creative Director
Steve Whittingham Edelman Copywriter
Andy Dawes Edelman Lead Art Director - Assembly for Edelman
Prashant Yadave Edelman Lead Planner - Assembly for Edelman
Waiming Wee Edelman Producer
Rod Jago Edelman Account Manager - Assembly for Edelman
Amy Ellison Edelman Account Manager - Assembly for Edelman
Charlotte Cook Edelman Account Manager - Assembly for Edelman
Sophie Densham Edelman Senior Account Executive - Assembly for Edelman
Lisa Baxter Edelman Account Executive - Assembly for Edelman
Behnam Karbassi No Mimes Media Founder / CEO
Steve Peters No Mimes Media Founder / CCO
Jay Bushman No Mimes Media Head of Story

Why is this work relevant for Brand Experience & Activation ?

This community-based, online-world meets real-world, global treasure hunt gave fans an incredible brand experience which sang to the style and nature of the Xbox Sea of Thieves game at every touch point, achieving extraordinary results in brand affinity and commercial success.


Sea of Thieves, the open-world pirate game, is Xbox’s biggest and most eagerly-awaited launch of 2018. This Xbox-exclusive game shows how Xbox is pushing boundaries and creating new gaming experiences that engage with gamers. A multiplayer, cooperative title, Sea of Thieves is the most inclusive and diverse game Microsoft has ever made, championing camaraderie, trust and friendship, and centered around shared gaming experiences. To match the anticipation and excitement, Sea of Thieves needed to create a disproportionate amount of attention and engagement globally – across six markets (US, UK, Canada, Australia, France, Germany) – on a modest budget.

Describe the creative idea

In March 2018, Xbox launched the swashbuckling new multiplayer Sea of Thieves with The Quest for The Golden Bananas. The quest sparked a gold rush with an alternative reality game where 15 fiendishly difficult puzzles needed to be solved in order to win the Golden Bananas, forged by master craftsman in London and valued at $100,000. Why bananas? In the game they are a source of health; in the real world we made them a source of wealth. We brought an in-game character to life to surface clues via our microsite, sending thousands from all over the world across digital and physical channels. What began as a competition grew into something greater. A global community working together, proving the value of camaraderie in the vast ocean of toxic online gaming. The crew that completed the quest were immortalized in game and rewarded with the loot of fruit.

Describe the strategy

Pirates knew to achieve anything, they needed to work together in a crew where camaraderie and trust is bond. These values have been lost in the ocean of online toxicity in gaming today. Our first strategic decision was to tap into this cultural insight but flip it around to bring out the best of gamers. This aligned perfectly with the premise of the game being all about people playing together and sharing experiences. We then looked at the game’s target audience. More than any other type of gamer, these players love exploring and immersing themselves in new worlds and engaging in a more deep and meaningful way than the more win-at-all-costs behaviors of gamers who play first-person-shooters. In short, the strategy was to bring out the best nature of gamers in a more "code of the sea" way than you would typically find for a video game launch.

Describe the execution

Goldsmiths crafted a treasure to attract gamers around the world – a bunch of real golden bananas valued at over $100K. The quest to claim this prize called gamers to ‘crew up’ to have a chance of solving the clues the fastest. We launched with a cryptic film that drove headlines around the world, driving to a microsite where clues appeared every four hours over the course of the subsequent three days. We even hid a clue in seeding kits that were sent to 400+ influencers globally. These clues sent intrepid problem-solvers to across the digital and physical world. Six involved live-action events, occurring in Key West, London, Paris, Berlin, Sydney and Victoria (Canada), each driving local headlines and deeper storytelling. We then delivered a global exclusive to top gaming outlet IGN to celebrate the winning crew, through a visit to game studio Rare to collect their golden bananas.

List the results

Total campaign reach of over 650 million Over 300K visits to The Quest website during the 2 week campaign period. Over 7.8M video views across owned channels (312% vs objective), with 90% of views organic Over 300k engagements across social channels (120% vs objective) Generated global earned media impact driving 100+ articles across 18 markets. More than 40k players engaged with two or more clues, and more than 10K players solved all 15 clues and entered the final Sea of Thieves saw more than a million players join on launch day, adding a further million within a week. Sea of Thieves is the fastest selling new IP of this console generation on Xbox Sea of Thieves is the best-selling Microsoft Studios first-party title on Windows 10 ever