Xbox has released an epic new ad as it looks to win over market share from arch-rival Sony PlayStation, in what is a very high-stakes year for the brands as they each gear up to launch a hotly anticipated new generation of consoles

The 70-second global ad by longtime agency 215 McCann has been released to promote Microsoft Xbox’s new Series X and Series S consoles, which launch Nov. 10.

The spot debuts today on digital channels in the U.S, U.K, Mexico, Germany and France and will air during Sunday Night Football, when the Minnesota Vikings take on the Seattle Seahawks. The campaign launch comes as Sony is also putting a huge marketing push behind its rival console, PlayStation 5, which will hit shelves Nov. 12.

Titled “Us Dreamers,” the ad is part of Xbox’s wider “Power Your Dreams” theme and stars British actor Daniel Kaluuya, from Get Out and Black Panther, who is transported through a series of spectacular, immersive dream-like worlds as he plays on his Xbox.

The spot, created in partnership with director Ian Pons Jewell and production house MPC, is set to the new single “No Ordinary” by British multiplatinum-selling artist Labrinth, and the ad’s launch corresponds with the track’s release.

“When we game, we dream—about being someone else, about being our true selves,” said Craig McNary, director of Xbox brands and advertising). “We dream of first place.  We dream of exploring new worlds.  Making new connections.  We dream of making this world a better place. With the all-new Xbox family of consoles launching worldwide on Nov. 10, no matter how improbable the dream, the power exists to turn your dreams into reality.”

The campaign comes hot on the heels of an equally epic, movie-trailer style spot from competitor PlayStation last month ahead of the launch of the new PlayStation 5 console. The 60-second spot, titled “The Edge” shows a man in a small boat on a rolling ocean who is suddenly surrounded by pirates and airships as his craft is drawn toward an ethereal, powerful blue light.

Sony described the new ad as “a metaphor for the journey that we will embark upon to a new era in entertainment.”

For the Xbox spot, the creative team wanted to strike a balance of soaring imagination while also making the new consoles feel approachable and fun. 

“The idea for Xbox is to encourage gamers to dream their biggest and best gaming dreams,” said Scott Duchon, chief creative officer for 215 McCann. “So we just want to create a welcoming invitation for gamers to see that Xbox can power those dreams. Also, being able to tap into some real gaming inspired dreams gave us a legitimate jumping off point for this story.”

Adapting to the unexpected

The ambitious spot was already underway when the Covid-19 pandemic took hold, grinding much of the marketing world—among countless other industries—to a halt.

From the beginning, Microsoft was clear about the No. 1 priority being the safety and health of all involved in the production,” said Mandi Holdorf, director of integrated production for 215 McCann. “We were in pre-production when the severity of Covid-19 was realized, and we quickly pivoted to capturing the spot in two parts to accommodate the pandemic restrictions without compromising vision.”

Working first with a very small on-site crew and remote coordination, the 215 McCann team managed to get a start on production through this two-phased approach, then came back together in July to complete the work.

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