Update: Eurogamer.net has published a statement from Microsoft wherein the company officially apologizes for their ad's wording and promises to correct the letter defaults.
Original Story: In possibly the worst marketing move I've seen from Microsoft this year, Xbox One offers to help you "make your case" to that person in your life who controls the pocketbook but just doesn't "get" gaming. Their new fill-in-the-space ad lets you talk in little words and patronizing whines as you deal with your "little snag" to gaming bliss.
I could continue, but in this case a picture (after the jump) is worth about 50 words--give or take.
The green areas are clickable, exposing dropdowns of equally condensending tones for your partner, parents, grandparents, and even roommate. The game-referencing dropdowns give a concise overview of the AAA launch titles available, and the "you'd rather watch me..." dropdown contains otherwise hilariously dull or disgusting activities.
Defenders have stated the ad is equal-opportunity on the gender front due to dropdown choices, but then why are the defaults obviously aimed at men who just can't convince their significant others to turn off When Harry Met Sally so they can blast zombies? The alternate dropdown options are amazing and potentially hilarious. With just a few tweaks, the default green zones could have created a brilliantly satirical letter virally mocking what the actual ad represents.
I get where they were going with this. Xbox wants to be seen for all its features, not just gaming. The window-snapping à la Windows 8 and TV streaming are attractive features--or would be, if not for the pandering tone. The Xbox marketing team should take a long look at their intended audience: according to the ESA's demographics, 45% of all gamers are women. Even if they like to knit, Skype with their sister, or watch their favourite TV shows, half the women you meet are likely to be that sniper making your multiplayer experience miserable.
In case you were thinking this may be a great way to bring up your Christmas wishlist with Mom, think again. While 46% of game purchasers are female, that doesn't mean they're buying for someone else. That same study found the largest single demographic of gamers to be women over 18, beating out the teenage male crowd by 12%. An August 2013 study found that 74% of moms report playing videogames with 50% of those surveyed reporting they play on consoles.
A co-worker (also a gaming mom) nicely summarized our gut response, "Refraining from punching something because, unlike some MS ad execs, I am not in fact a Neanderthal."
For all their next-gen talk, Xbox needs to move into this century first.
4 PM ET Update: Microsoft has removed the "knit" option from the first paragraph.