The Jonas Brothers Promote Xbox 360
IT’S all in the family, Madison Avenue style: a product aimed at families is teaming up with a famous name in family entertainment for an elaborate effort fronted by one of the biggest family acts in music.
The Xbox 360 gaming system, sold by the Microsoft Corporation, is being endorsed by the Jonas Brothers rock band in a campaign that appears in properties owned by the brothers’ media partner, the Walt Disney Company. Xbox 360 joins a short list of brands to be promoted by the Jonases, whose music appeals to the teenagers, preteenagers and mothers composing the target audience for the gaming system.
The multimillion-dollar campaign, created internally at Disney, is part of a larger initiative for Xbox 360 that carries the theme “It’s more fun time,” which is created by T.A.G. in San Francisco, part of the McCann Worldgroup division of the Interpublic Group of Companies.
The Jonas-centric ads are being introduced along with work from T.A.G. like commercials and video clips featuring the actress Jane Lynch of the hit Fox series “Glee,” which are on television and online.
The Jonas campaign is also on television and online, as well as in print and on radio. It is timed to reach consumers just as they are thinking about what, if anything, they are going to buy during the coming holiday shopping season.
“We’re optimistic for the holidays,” said Robert Matthews, senior director of global marketing communications for the interactive enterprise business at Microsoft in Redmond, Wash.
“Interactive entertainment tends to be a little more recession-resistant,” Mr. Matthews said, “and we’re certainly doing what we can to drive value for consumers.”
Among those steps are a sale on the premium version of the game console, the Xbox 360 Elite, bundled with two games, for the same $299 price as the console typically costs alone, and an emphasis on the Xbox Live service, which enables users to play games, listen to music, watch movies and patronize Web services like Facebook, Last.fm and Twitter.
(Microsoft is seeking to stimulate preholiday sales for the Windows 7 operating system as well as Xbox 360.)
Among the aspects of the Jonas campaign is an opportunity to watch on Xbox Live a free episode of “Jonas,” the brothers’ sitcom on the Disney Channel, with “a custom opening” segment produced with the brothers, said Tricia Wilber, executive vice president at the Disney media sales and marketing group in New York.
The group oversees the company’s “kids- and mom-focused media,” Ms. Wilber said, including the Disney Channel and the Disney XD cable channels, disney.com, disneyfamily.com, Disney Family Fun magazine and Radio Disney.
Many of those media are taking part in the Jonas campaign. For instance, visitors to disney.com/morefuntime can learn about a sweepstakes with the grand prize being a chance “to hang out” with the Jonases and “experience Xbox 360 together.”
A commercial shows the brothers — Joe, Kevin and Nick — sharing a game console with visitors to their green room backstage. The plot is apparently, as they say in the movies, based on true events.
Xbox is “something they’ve grown up with,” Kevin Jonas Sr., a manager of the band, said of his sons during a telephone interview on Thursday.
“We’ve traveled with Xbox since the time it came out,” he added. “As long as it’s in their dressing room, we’re all good.”
That was corroborated by Kevin and Nick, who joined Mr. Jonas for the interview. The brothers have “a road case with the Xbox built right in,” Kevin Jonas said. It accompanies them on tour.
Mr. Jonas said he and his sons accepted the endorsement deal from Microsoft because they “want reliable, family-friendly brands we can associate with.”
“The boys have been approached by so many companies; so many possibilities of doing commercials and endorsements,” he added. “We do say no every day.”
Among those to whom they have said yes are Verizon Communications, a sponsor of the band’s tours, and Burger King; the brothers appear in ads for a single menu item, apple fries, rather than the entire menu.
Nick is diabetic, Mr. Jonas explained, so “we make healthy choices, or represent healthy choices.”
Nick Jonas also appears solo in ads for the Contour blood glucose monitor sold by Bayer HealthCare and takes part in a campaign meant to help fight juvenile diabetes (nickssimplewins.com).
The family “absolutely gets involved with all” marketing partners, Mr. Jonas said, including creative approval of ads, which are screened by Mr. Jonas and the band’s other managers “and then we run it by the boys.”
Microsoft did some screening of its own to make sure the campaign was not an example of play for pay.
“Yes, the Jonas Brothers, like any teenage and young adult folks, enjoy video games and enjoy Xbox 360,” Mr. Matthews said. “It’s great when you can leverage experience with the brand that exists naturally.”
As for concerns that the popularity of the endorsers could overwhelm the product being endorsed, Mr. Matthews said: “At the end of the day, Xbox as a brand is an incredibly strong brand, with loyalty across all age groups. You’ve got two strong brands coming together. Certainly, there’s no fear one overshadows the other in any way.”
Make that three brands, counting Disney. Interestingly, Disney has ties to the Microsoft rival, Apple, through its chief executive, Steven P. Jobs, who serves on the Disney board. The battle between Apple and Microsoft may be the 21st-century version of the cola wars.
“We are not Apple,” Ms. Wilber said. “For us, this is an opportunity to partner with someone targeted to our audience.”
Mr. Matthews echoed that. Disney has “access to the audiences we’re going after,” he said, and “we have products relevant to those audiences.”
Source: NY Times.