In the twenty-first century, advertising seems to find a way to either sneak into our lives or take the more blunt approach and literally pop up in our faces. When we look into Microsoft’s initial advertising campaign for the Xbox One, it has been a vast improvement for public image in relation to the original downfalls and shortcomings of the Xbox Reveal event. The company in Redmond wants to do anything they can to improve that original image – even if it means paying off prominent YouTubers.
The new tactic, which is being touted as Microsoft’s “Stealth Marketing”, is aimed at paying additional incentives to current Machinima video partners. YouTube channels who are already teamed up with the well-known video entertainment company will be able to earn extra dollars per every one thousand views by simply mentioning and promoting the new console.
In detail, partners must post a video that includes thirty seconds or more of Xbox One game footage in which the console’s name is mentioned. Videos that are attempting to take advantage of the once stealthy campaign are tagged “XB1M13”.
The technique doesn’t seem like a bad one, Microsoft and Machinima give YouTubers three extra dollars and their console gets a bit of time in the spotlight, but the story gets a bit unorthodox when looking at the fine print. Studying what is a now leaked copy of the full legal agreement behind the promotion shows that the video creators “may not say anything negative or disparaging about Machinima, Xbox One, or any of its Games.” So if you aren’t a fan of Ryse: Son of Rome – now is not the time to mention it.
Leveraging social media isn’t anything new and it comes down to common sense that if Microsoft is paying you to praise your console, then you probably don’t want to bash them. The question is whether or not Microsoft’s stealthy guerilla tactics will be seen as everyday advertising or something a bit shadier.
What do you think about Microsoft’s latest attempt to advertise the Xbox One?
Update: Microsoft has issued a statement claiming that they didn't know details of the Machinima contracts:
"Microsoft was not aware of individual contracts Machinima had with their content providers as part of this promotion and we didn’t provide feedback on any of the videos. We have asked Machinima to not post any additional Xbox One content as part of this media buy and we have asked them to add disclaimers to the videos that were part of this program indicating they were part of paid advertising."