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 Media?
This work is relevant for Media because it utilised a unique, real-time channel-strategy. Across every football touchpoint, Xbox translated the real-life moves from live broadcast football matches into the corresponding button combinations. From dynamic, animated perimeter boards at Real Madrid’s stadium and post-match reports in newspaper sports sections, to commentary on TalkSport and reactive social content, each medium played off the live event of high-profile football matches to essentially become a live tutorial that taught gamers how recreate their idols’ moves on Xbox’s version of 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 and across all media, we at Xbox had the opposite – a 100% ban on marketing the game everywhere, on all channels. We couldn’t even show our own game packshot. How could Xbox market a game they were forbidden from marketing?
Describe the creative idea/insights
In partnership with top club Real Madrid and a top FIFA gamer, we devised a unique channel-strategy that leveraged the immense reach of live Real Madrid matches to help make viewers keep thinking of FIFA. We translated every pass, every shot, every possible combination on the pitch into the corresponding Xbox controller buttons for ‘FIFA 18’, in real time, on animated perimeter boards around the stadium. Special Xbox commentary on TalkSport, reactive social posts as well as post-match reports in the London Evening Standard all amplified the translation. Every medium constantly associated 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 and get better at playing the game.
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 media laterally. So we leveraged the one thing with a bigger reach and more passionate fan base than videogame football – actual football. By partnering with a top club and using media channels related to actual football matches (perimeter boards, commentary, match reports etc.), 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.
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