2021 Brand Experience & Activation


Category G07. Corporate Purpose & Social Responsibility
Idea Creation McCANN London, UNITED KINGDOM
Media Placement McCANN London, UNITED KINGDOM
Name Company Position
Rob Doubal McCann London Chief Creative Officer
Laurence Thomson McCann London Chief Creative Officer
Jamie Mietz McCann London Executive Creative Director
Sanjiv Mistry McCann London Executive Creative Director
James Crosby McCann London Senior Creative
William Cottam McCann London Senior Creative
Lisa Carrana McCann London Head of Design
David Coates McCann London Designer
Jonathan Bender McCann London Senior Planner
Mike Phillips McCann London Senior Planner
Jessica Tamsedge McCann London Managing Director
Sailesh Jani McCann London Managing Partner
Oscar Flintoft McCann London Business Director
Melanie Vickers McCann London Account Director
May Sinlapa McCann London Senior Account Manager
Eloise Thompson McCann London Account Associate
Clare Prager McCann London Project Director
Georgia Wettenhall McCann London Senior Project Manager
Sergio Lopez Craft Chief Production Officer
Alec Christie Craft Executive Producer
Alexia Merrington Craft Executive Producer
Zara Balfour Craft Senior Producer
Pedro Pinto Craft Head of Post Production
Jamie Cooper Craft Post Producer
Sarah Hall Craft Producer
Liam White Craft Senior Print Producer
Chris Fowles Craft Director
Michael Flatt Xbox Global Integrated Marketing Director
Jack White Xbox Global Integrated Marketing Lead
Taylor Smith Xbox General Manager, Xbox Brand Marketing

Why is this work relevant for Brand Experience & Activation?

Loneliness within the elderly has become a serious issue; but Xbox knows that gaming has the power to connect. This is the story of how Xbox opened up the world gaming to a whole generation of people (the elderly) and made them realise the positive impacts that it could have on their lives. We redefined the experience and purpose of gaming. From consoles being perceived by the older generation as a tool to play games in a solitary way, to now being appreciated as a means to connect and build relationships whilst exploring virtual worlds together with their grandchildren.


According to the charity AgeUK, a million elderly people go a month without speaking to another person, and since the pandemic the issue has only got worse. Yet gaming amongst the younger generation is on the rise, with people using Xbox as a tool to connect, socialise and maintain friendships. We wanted to shine a light on the relationship-building potential of modern online gaming and help bridge the generational divide by enabling the young and old to reconnect.

Describe the creative idea (20% of vote)

Xbox launched ‘Beyond Generations’, an initiative to connect young and old through the power of gaming. Realising that the majority of the elderly population don’t own consoles, we saw an opportunity to help empower young gamers to gift their old consoles to the elderly people in their lives. ‘ReBoxing’ Kits were made available to download online. It had everything that was needed to get an old console ready, and also made it super-simple for an elderly person to set up. A ‘what’s in the box’ page acted as both a check list for the sender, and a handy contents list for the recipient. Paper tags could be cut out and affixed to each component, informing and instructing the elderly person to its use. And it was all topped off with a greetings card to write a heartfelt message for their grandparents.

Describe the strategy (20% of vote)

Xbox wanted to help bridge the generational divide, but it didn’t feel right to target the elderly. Instead, we wanted to encourage and facilitate the younger generation to make the first move. We knew that the vast majority of elderly wouldn’t own a console or even consider buying one. But we knew young gamers would soon be upgrading to the next generation console (the Xbox Series S), which meant there would be a window of opportunity where their old consoles would be lying around collecting dust. Xbox wanted to make gifting an old console a no-brainer, by making the process as simple as possible and also showing the benefits gaming could bring to their grandparents.

Describe the execution (30% of vote)

The ‘Beyond Generations’ platform was launched in the UK on 18 Dec. Two documentary films were commissioned; each followed the real-life stories of two different families who'd lost touch, whether it was through distance or just growing apart. Shot over the course of 4 weeks, ReBoxed Xbox consoles were gifted to the elderly relatives by their grandkids, and new relationships were formed over games. The films lived on Xbox’s YouTube page & were promoted on social channels. A dedicated landing page was launched for the ‘Beyond Generations;’ initiative, where the ‘ReBoxing’ kit could be downloaded and printed at home. A handy ‘how to’ video also gave useful hints and tips how to ReBox an old console. Xbox also created the first ‘ReBoxing’ video, subverting the popular trend of unboxing videos. Xbox partnered with leading retirement home network, RetirementVillages.co.uk to supply consoles in a number of their homes across the UK.

List the results (30% of vote)

While the primary aim was to foster (re)connection between families, the campaign also had the effect of bringing a previously untapped audience (the elderly) into the Xbox ecosystem. The two films received the highest percentage of positive sentiment from any piece of content released by Xbox before – despite the gaming community being one of the most critical and hardest to please. Some of the comments received said ‘Xbox Cured Loneliness’ and ‘Achievement Unlocked: Family Bonding’. It seemed the films really touched people, as everyone could relate to the issue of loneliness and make them think hard about their own relationship with grandparents. Xbox’s end goal was to deliver on their brand mantra ‘when everybody plays, we all win’ proving that gaming should be inclusive for all. The most important result from the campaign could never be a number or a figure, but the families that reconnected through this experience.

Please tell us how the brand purpose inspired the work

Loneliness among the elderly is on the rise, yet the virtual worlds of gaming have become places where gamers can build and maintain real-world relationships. Xbox believe in inclusivity for all, and stand by the manta ‘when everybody plays, we all win’. It inspired us to help bridge the generational divide in families, by showing elderly people the relationship-building potential of today’s games, and by getting younger people to start connecting with their grandparents. We wanted to empower the elderly to explore the virtual worlds of Xbox by going on virtual road trips together in Forza or sailing on virtual ships together in Sea of Thieves, things that are no longer possible for them to do in real life. These experiences soon became ice-breakers for opening up to each other about their lives and forming deeper relationships, something sorely missing from ordinary video calls.