Digital & Social Media

Thinking Outside the (X)Box


What Happened:

To promote “Rise of the Tomb Raider,” the most recent release in the Lara Croft franchise, Xbox staged a “Survival of the Grittiest” competition. Eight competitors spent up to 20 excruciating hours strapped to a billboard in London, where they faced a series of harsh weather conditions meant to emulate Croft’s latest adventures in the Siberian tundra. A dedicated website live-streamed the competition while viewers followed along with #SurvivalBillboard on Twitter. The winner, who held off hypothermia the longest through bouts of extreme wind, rain, cold and snow shot from cannons, received a trip inspired by “Rise of the Tomb Raider” – hopefully to somewhere warm.

What This Means for Brands:

It’s old news that the constantly expanding reach of digital marketing allows brands to insert themselves ever more deeply into consumers’ lives, and this Xbox stunt falls in line with that trend through its live-streaming and Twitter campaign. But it also flips that concept on its head by returning to a more traditional form of advertising – the billboard – and quite literally inserting actual people into that medium instead, right down to seamlessly integrating the pattern on the competitors’ jumpsuits with the text on the billboard to spell out the ad’s message across the competitors themselves, as though their bodies were part of the face of the billboard itself rather than figures in the ad.

This stunt marks a fully integrated campaign that pairs up digital and traditional advertising to make new use of an old medium. Billboard advertising is still effective – but only if done well. In order to stand out as digital channels become more and more ubiquitous, brands need to think creatively and strategically about how to employ digital platforms to use traditional media in innovative ways.