Francois d’Espagnac, Matteo Della Venezia and Tom Oliver
Senior Project Manager
Claire Colohan and Rebecca Wilford
Chief Production Officer EMEA
Head of Planning
Director of Photography
Reimer Eisig and Lennard van der Last
Adam Smyth and Giselle Hall
Senior Sound Engineer and Sound Engineer
Mariona Sauret, Adam Ryzman and Francis Harris
Ivo Van Vollenhoven
Why is this work relevant for Brand Experience & Activation ?
This work is relevant for Brand Experience & Activation because the core of it was a brand activation that could be experienced either in person at the football stadium, at home watching a live broadcast, or via social channels. It started by partnering with the biggest club in the world, and grew from there, and at every point our audience could see and hear, in real time, how the skills of their football heroes were being translated into Xbox controller commands, unlocking their skill for the world to re-create on Xbox.
‘FIFA 18’, the latest in the football videogame series, was going to be crucial for Xbox. However, Xbox’s competitor PlayStation had paid a fortune to buy all the marketing rights for the game. It meant that while PlayStation had total freedom to advertise the game any way they wanted, we at Xbox had the opposite – a 100% ban on marketing the game across all media. We couldn’t even show our own game packshot. How could Xbox market a game they were forbidden from marketing?
Describe the creative idea
In partnership with top club Real Madrid and a top FIFA gamer, we ensured that every pass, every shot, every possible combination on the pitch was translated into the corresponding Xbox controller buttons for ‘FIFA 18’, in real time. This tactic constantly linked FIFA with Xbox, without ever mentioning the game or contravening the marketing exclusivity deal. By doing so, Xbox put a stamp of ownership on the skills of world-class footballers, allowing the massive global football fanbase to re-create these skills on Xbox. From perimeter boards to commentary to reactive social and even post-match reports, every touchpoint didn’t just advertise FIFA – it made gamers better at it on Xbox.
Describe the strategy
The situation was an almost impossible one for Xbox. Forbidden from mentioning FIFA, showing any game assets or even a packshot meant that we had to approach things laterally. So we leveraged the one thing with a bigger and more passionate fan base than videogame football – actual football. By partnering with a top club and attaching our gaming brand to actual football matches, gamers would know that what we were really talking about was ‘FIFA 18’, even though that was never explicitly mentioned.
Describe the execution
The ‘Football Decoded’ campaign consisted of stadium perimeter boards, commentary, print, online video, social videos and an interactive installation – all of which decoded real football moves into the Xbox button combinations needed to perform them on Xbox’s version of ‘FIFA 18’. The campaign launched on 21 September 2017, with an end date of 30 May 2018. Campaign touchpoints were rolled out to coincide with key Real Madrid matches, to ensure maximum reach. Perimeter boards first appeared during El Classico, the much-watched match between Madrid and Barcelona, while post-match reports followed the Champions League quarter final. Overall, the partnership with Real Madrid was decided upon due to their scale and quality (most valuable sports brand according to Forbes; 290 million social followers; 4.5 million stadium visitors p/a etc.). This meant that a larger cross-section of gamers learned new Xbox FIFA skills from some of the best footballers on the planet.
List the results
- Over 100 million impressions
- Reached 650 million spectators per match (x 12 matches)
- FIFA unique player base grew by 10% year-on-year from launch through to Q3