Short List
Category A08. Excellence in Brand Integration & Sponsorships / Partnerships for Branded Content
Product/ServiceXBOX / FIFA 18
Media Placement CARAT London, UNITED KINGDOM
Name Company Position
Rob Doubal and Laurence Thomson McCann London Co-Presidents and Chief Creative Officers
Sanjiv Mistry and Jamie Mietz McCann London Executive Creative Directors
Jacob Björdal and Jim Nilsson McCann London Art Director and Copywriter
Robert Stockton McCann London Account Manager
Francois d’Espagnac, Matteo Della Venezia and Tom Oliver McCann London Account Director
Sailesh Jani McCann London Managing Partner
Rob Smith McCann London EVP
Paul Gillespie McCann London Senior Project Manager
Claire Colohan and Rebecca Wilford Craft/McCann Producers
Sergio Lopez Craft/McCann Chief Production Officer EMEA
Karen Crum McCann London Head of Planning
Fanni David McCann London Senior Planner
Jack Goss McCann London Planning Intern
Omri Cohen Somesuch Director
Todd Martin Somesuch Director of Photography
Louise Gagen Somesuch Producer
Seth Wilson Somesuch Executive Producer
Reimer Eisig and Lennard van der Last Somesuch Composers
Chris Graves Craft/McCann Music Supervisor
Adam Smyth and Giselle Hall Craft/McCann Senior Sound Engineer and Sound Engineer
Mariona Sauret, Adam Ryzman and Francis Harris Craft/McCann Editors
Miriam Sasiain Twentyfour Seven Production Manager
Yasmina Ikimou Twentyfour Seven Production Coordinator
Lucas Cuevas Twentyfour Seven 1st AD
Frodo Martinez Twentyfour Seven 2nd AD
Ivo Van Vollenhoven Twentyfour Seven Ext. Producer
Bea Cañete Twentyfour Seven Producer
Joe Richardson Craft/McCann Artworker
Liam White Craft/McCann Print Producer
Ellis Faint Craft/McCann Studio Manager

Why is this work relevant for Entertainment?

Football is the biggest, most-watched form of sporting entertainment in the world. This idea is relevant for Entertainment Lions because Xbox became integrated into the live football-watching experience of one of the planet’s most popular football clubs. Partnering with Real Madrid, Xbox translated skills on the field during actual football matches into button combinations for Xbox’s version of FIFA 18. Via live perimeter boards, commentary, social and post-match newspaper reports, fans of football and Xbox could now watch the sport in an entirely new way, learning from the best in real time to become better at FIFA 18.


‘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

We leveraged something bigger than videogame football – real football. In partnership with top club Real Madrid and a top FIFA gamer, we translated every pass, every shot, every possible combination on the pitch into the corresponding Xbox controller buttons for ‘FIFA 18’, in real time. With live perimeter boards and commentary, as well as reactive social and post-match newspaper reports, the tactic linked FIFA with Xbox in the minds of football-loving gamers, without ever mentioning the game or contravening the marketing deal. Our content gave fans a new way to watch football, to not just passively experience it, but to actively learn from the best and become better at FIFA 18 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 target them in a more lateral way. 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, our target audience of football-loving 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 Clásico, 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.

Describe the outcome

- 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