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Creative Xbox News

How Xbox translated Fifa controller inputs into a newspaper match report ad


By Katie Deighton | Senior Reporter

April 25, 2018 | 3 min read

To compete with PlayStation’s “huge global marketing campaign” promoting Fifa 18, Xbox has combined the traditions of match analysis and print advertising for its own initiative.

Xbox ad

Xbox runs unique ad in bottom right corner of page

The brand enlisted McCann London to take its digital product and translate it into the original analog advertising platform – the newspaper. The agency put together a match report covering the high points of the recent Juventus v Real Madrid match, telling the story not in words but in Xbox button combinations.

Copy printed in a small box in the Evening Standard included: ‘Costa B and wins the ball. He RT and Y to Khedira who X.’

Laurence Thomson, co-president and chief creative officer at McCann London, explained the campaign was devised in response to the latest – and expensive – Fifa 18 campaign from Xbox’s “biggest competitor” (a brand it’s safe to assume is owned by Sony).

“We had to promote the game in a new, innovative way,” he said. “Therefore, we wanted to create a piece of content that was truly useful for all the football and gaming fans out there. Instead of just telling you to buy the game, this match report teaches you how to play the game. And what better inspiration than the gigantic clash between footballing giants Real Madrid and Juventus?”

Xbox press

Turning real-life passes, tackles and shots into written Xbox combinations wasn’t a simple task, however McCann creatives soon found themselves “fluent” in the language.

“On Xbox, every button combination represents a different move,” said Thomson. “For the match report, we analysed all the individual moves of the highlights – such as passes, crosses, dribbles, and more – and translated them into the corresponding button combinations.

“We also consulted with football gaming experts at Xbox to make sure every button was correct.”

This tiny box of copy forms part of a bigger campaign that includes digital video and a social media campaign reminiscent of the print ad. It was the gravitas of this particular match that drove McCann to traditional, above the line work.

“With this match being such a big event in the world of football, we knew that newspapers would be writing about it,” explained Thomson. “This gave us the rare opportunity to create reactive and contextually relevant content in a traditional medium.

“Sports fans love reading about the big matches – this was our way of offering an alternative perspective on the match.”

Creative Xbox News

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