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MI6: Chris Di Cesare Talks Halo 2, Xbox 360

The MI6 game marketing conference kicked off yesterday with a keynote talk from director of Xbox marketing Chris Di Cesare, and Gamasutra was there to record his thoughts on Microsoft's marketing challenges in launching the Xbox 360 and Halo 2.
MI6, a new conference from Promax/BDA, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting awareness of marketing in interactive entertainment, kicked off today with a keynote talk from director of Xbox marketing Chris Di Cesare. In the talk, which was preceded by an amusing conference introduction by cable television personality Stephen Colbert, Di Cesare discussed the current shape of the industry, and detailed two successful launches under his guidance; Halo 2, and the Xbox 360. Di Cesare specifically pointed out changes in the entertainment landscape, pulling out slides of which we’ve all seen some variation before. Network television views are down, cable is up in the important youth demographic, and interactive media, such as games, are increasing. “What it all comes down to is control,” says Di Cesare. “There’s unprecedented power to decide what, when, and how consumers view things. The old consumer, they could be an easy target for marketers to push messages to, so it didn’t even matter what kind of commercials would be out there, they had an audience that was dedicated, that was right in front of them, that could never leave.” But new consumers, he says, need to be reached in different ways – they need to be entertained. Di Cesare recommends that marketing plans thus take the form of 80% spend on proven tactics, with 20% spend on experimental marketing. Gaming is untapped, Di Cesare says, and has an engaged audience, which is very enthusiastic about marketing when it’s done right. He cited Fight Night Round 3’s inclusion of the King from Burger King as one such success. He closed by discussing the launch of Halo 2, essentially reiterating what we already knew. Halo 2 was treated like the release of a blockbuster film, with traditional media spots, as well as the viral marketing campaign, the now quite famous “I Love Bees” ARG. For the 360 launch, Di Cesare focused on their “Zero Hour” event. They built up media hype around the event, and when it happened, a number of human interest stories penetrated the mainstream television and internet sectors. “If you take one thing away from this,” says Di Cesare, “no longer is it a model about viewing ad impressions, it’s about entertaining and engaging. Once you’ve got the hook in for your product and can really understand what the consumers want, then you can apply some of the practices that I’ve outlined here.”

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