NEWS - Tuesday, October 4, 2005 Boosts Xbox 360 Marketing Creates Early Marketing Buzz for Xbox 360 Microsoft’s Xbox 360 won’t launch until late November but thanks to the company’s partnership with Pepsi, marketing for the system in some ways already started as early as August. Giving away a free Xbox 360 console literally every 10 minutes is a fantastic way to build hype and generate buzz for the next-gen system months in advance. Microsoft and Pepsi’s Every 10 Minutes Xbox 360 giveaway is the latest in a series of cross promotions between the two corporate giants, and it’s shaping up to be their most effective yet. The campaign, powered by Yahoo, will have given away a total of 9,222 Xbox 360s when all is said and done later this month, or one for every 10 minutes of every day, from August 29 to October 31. Although the concept of giving away 9,000+ 360s is a powerful one, giving away a 360 every 10 minutes for nine weeks is an extremely effective message, despite the fact that the numbers work out the same. Anytime someone visits, a new 360 winner is only minutes away. We spoke with Microsoft about working with Pepsi, the contest’s promotion, and the marketing momentum it provides. Demographic Fit This is not the first time that the two companies have worked together to pair up the Mountain Dew and Xbox brands. Mt. Dew sponsored the release of Halo 2’s first free downloadable maps in April, and worked together to spread Halo 2 awareness prior to its release with Halo-themed slurpee cups, and other promotions. [ "The campaign has been very powerful in generating awareness of, excitement and participation in the [Xbox 360] promotion," Microsoft spokesperson ] The company’s relationship has extended beyond Halo to encompass the Game Live on Xbox college tour that began in September. Mountain Dew is the presenting sponsor of the 25-campus event, now in its third year. Although Mountain Dew has clearly found gamers to be a demographic fit (it had an imposing presence at E3 2005 as well), Microsoft noted that the current Xbox 360 promotion involved many more Pepsi products, with the intention of involving those more on the periphery of gaming as well. "The [Every 10 Minutes] idea germinated through an ongoing partnership with Mountain Dew," an Xbox representative told GameDAILY BIZ. "Mountain Dew leads the campaign and their target audience lends itself well to the gaming audience. However, additional Pepsi brands also support the promotion linking the campaign to the mainstream audience creating a broad awareness. Brands/packages participating in the promotion include: Mountain Dew, Diet Mountain Dew, Code Red, LiveWire, Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, Caffeine Free Pepsi (Regular and Diet), Wild Cherry Pepsi (Reg and Diet), Sierra Mist, and Sierra Mist Free." Strong Reinforcing Campaign Although the campaign itself isn’t strictly viral like some of Microsoft’s previous marketing efforts ( and, the nature of the contest encourages word of mouth. With 360 winners announced in real time every 10 minutes of every day, far more online and word of mouth buzz is generated during the course of the nine-week promotion. During the first few weeks when it was primarily the hardcore gaming audience participating, there was at least one winner at every large gaming community/message board. The word of mouth was reinforced with various media buys, and of course product packaging. "There is a comprehensive media campaign that includes television, radio, on-line advertising, email communication and in-store point of sale. Promotional packaging has also been instrumental in communicating the promotion since the packaging is where the consumer learns the key details about the sweepstakes and gets the codes. The campaign has been very powerful in generating awareness of, excitement and participation in the promotion," Microsoft explained. A Case of the Hiccups Although details remain unclear as of right now, there have been numerous reports from many independent blogs and message boards that some were able to abuse the contest to almost assure themselves a free 360, after which the rules were quickly modified to prevent the unfair advantage. Every code collected from a Pepsi product represented one chance to win a 360, but referring others to the contest’s homepage earned contest codes as well. By abusing this referral system, some unscrupulous participants were reportedly able to drastically increase their chances of winning, to the point that they sometimes had an over 50% opportunity. Microsoft, for its part, steadfastly insists that no one attempting to defraud the system will get away with it. "All winners must be verified and approved, and if fraudulent behavior is suspected, an account can be frozen at any time," the company told GameDAILY BIZ. Despite this snafu, the creativity of the promotion and the sheer monetary value of its prizes have far overridden any negative feelings generated. It appears that what could have potentially been a debacle is instead merely a small hiccup in an otherwise extremely effective sweepstakes.

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