Subway tries interactive TV with Microsoft XBox ad

September 26, 2012  |  Rebecca Harris  |  Comments

Update: This story was updated on Sept. 27 at 9:30 a.m.

Subway Restaurants is serving up a new combination—and it’s not just another saucy chicken sandwich. It’s interactive TV advertising, once an oxymoron but now a reality for marketers in the gaming world.

Subway is one of the first Canadian beta testers for Microsoft Advertising’s NuAds advertising format on XBox Live. Using the XBox’s 360 Kinect sensor (a device that tracks body movement and voice commands), Microsoft Advertising turned standard 30-second TV spots into “engaging and actionable experiences” that respond to voice commands or physical gestures.

The spot is launched through an ad square on the XBox Live dashboard. The display is overlaid with interactive options for audiences to choose from by either waving their hand to select a box, using their voice or the standard XBox controller.

For example, when the question “Where will you eat your Tuscan Chicken Melt?” pops up, users can choose “at restaurant,” “at work,” “at home” or “on the go.”

Gamers can watch a live tally of feedback from other subscribers while Subway will get real-time feedback on their campaign.

NuAds, short for natural user-interface ads, were introduced at the Cannes International Advertising Festival in 2011 and has just launched in beta in the U.S. and Canada. In the U.S., Unilever, Samsung and Toyota were the first advertisers to sign on, while in Canada Subway and Rogers were the only two beta testers. For Subway, NuAds beta test program was negotiated by Carat, Subway Canada’s media buying agency of record.

“NuAd has allowed us to directly interact with our target audience,” said Kathleen Bell, director of marketing at Subway Restaurants in Canada. “It’s fun, it’s interesting and we can engage them. It gets people passively watching advertising up off the couch and interacting with our ads.”

Subway’s 30-second spot in the NuAds format promotes its limited-time Tuscan Chicken Melt.

“Subway provided us with their TV spot and then XBox waves the magic wand and puts in the technology piece, which is very simple,” said Charlie Parkes-Patel, sales solutions executive, gaming at Microsoft Advertising. “It’s overlaying technology onto their TV commercial, so we don’t ask the client to supply anything apart from a 30-second TV spot.”

Bell said the target audience goes beyond young males – traditionally seen as the primary gaming audience. “We’re looking at 18- to 34-year-olds, but this skews so wide and broad right now,” she said of today’s gamers.

“Lots of people have the misconception that the XBox is just for teenage boys in the basement, but the actual fact is we have all ages from 18 to 64,” said Parkes-Patel, adding that 55% of the XBox audience is 18-34.

Microsoft does not make Canadian numbers for XBox Live memberships or Kinect users available. Worldwide, XBox Live has 40 million subscribers.

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