Even before Facebook turned video games into potential viral juggernauts, they were already inherently digital experiences. So there's probably only a few marketing sectors that view online as a more target-rich environment to generate sales than gaming advertisers.
Case in point: Xbox, a Microsoft property, on Tuesday launched a multifaceted campaign for its Forza Horizon game release that's anchored by an eight-episode online reality series. The six-minute program will star dance club DJ Steve Aoki and run biweekly for the next month, distributed via Fuse’s website and YouTube channel. The video series was conceived by Alloy Digital, which brought Fuse and Xbox together and recruited talent for the project.
Dubbed Chasing With Steve Aoki, it entails three teams of characters that will compete while facing a series of real-life challenges. The teams will sometimes receive helpful clues by pulling up video messages from Aoki via an Xbox console.
Forza Horizon will be receive placement throughout the episodes, including branded clothing and gear, while taking center stage during the show’s fourth installment when the teams vie in the action-racing game. (This is the fourth game release in Xbox's Forza Motorsport franchise.)
The video series will also be promoted on Fuse’s cable TV channel in an overall effort involving multiple service providers in addition to Alloy Digital, including 215 McCann and Starcom MediaVest. Alloy's comedic duo Smosh (one of the bigger brands on YouTube) will also appear in the videos while explaining rules to the Chasing With Steve Aoki participants. Banner and video ads will run across Alloy’s network of sites that target 12- to 34-year-old consumers in the coming weeks.
“We have a healthy mix of digital because we know the game-playing audience entails heavily digital consumers who are socially connected,” said Rob Matthews, Microsoft’s gm of global consumer marketing for the company’s interactive entertainment business.
In addition, the show should garner tons of earned media promotions via the millions of Facebook fans and Twitter followers that Xbox, Fuse and Steve Aoki can collectively leverage, Matthews said.
“We also have extensive reach through Xbox.com that we'll utilize,” he explained. “We are deploying all of our channels to promote Forza Horizon and this [video] series.”
In addition, the campaign entails a dedicated Facebook hub that offers exclusive content about the video game. Various TV spots and print ads will be push Forza Horizon to traditional audiences as well, Matthews said.