This Wonderfully Bonkers Xbox Game Pass Ad Is Memetastic

Tone hits audience target squarely in the middle

Buckle up for a wacky ride. Xbox / Microsoft
Headshot of T.L. Stanley

The new ad for Xbox Game Pass is a lot like the movie Inception, made specifically for people who spend tons of their waking hours playing Zombie Army Trilogy.

“It’s a meme within a meme within a meme,” said Geordie Larratt-Smith, account director at the brand’s agency, Ayzenberg Group.

It’s also kind of unhinged, in a totally entertaining way, and a purposefully anti-marketing-speak way to introduce new Game Pass channels on Twitter and Instagram.

The spot, which debuted Wednesday, opens with a sympathetic, big pharma-like voice-over to set up a 21st century (first world) problem: You’re adrift. You’re staring vacantly into the abyss. You’re stressed and tired. You question the very fabric of time, space and existence. In short, your life feels like “a series of mediocre stock videos.”

That sequence, not coincidentally, is illustrated with a series of mediocre stock videos.

There’s a solution to this ennui, of course, and its name is Xbox Game Pass, a Netflix-like all-you-can-eat subscription that serves up more than 100 games for $10 a month. It debuted about a year ago with brash actor-comedian-pitchman Danny McBride riffing on the brand’s “more is better” theme.

To launch two new Twitter and Instagram channels, execs decided “to let the creative go wild,” said Devin Moore, Microsoft’s global marketing manager. “We’re putting a stake in the ground and saying we’re here to communicate with our fans in a voice and tone they recognize.”

That voice and tone, which truly unleashes after the calming intro, goes high concept and high energy, including the “existential” benefits of gaming and tidbits of popular titles like State of Decay 2, Fallout 4, Rise of Tomb Raider and Farming Simulator 15. (“Corn on the coooooooob,” says the high-decibel pro-wrestling-meets-monster-truck announcer).

Moore said the channels will be “a breeding ground for intricate social media tactics,” and a way for the brand to “create relationships with fans.”

Ayzenberg, which kicked off Game Pass in summer 2017, had a long leash for the work and took cues from team members’ day-to-day digital experiences while still pushing the brand’s sales message.

“We thought about what’s shareable, unexpected and attention grabbing,” Larratt-Smith said. “It’s the kind of content we engage with on the internet” and “the epitome of a tone-setter for everything to come in these communities.”


Global Marketing Manager: Devin Moore
MarCom Manager: Abhi Shah
Sr. Global Consumer Marketing Manager: Josh Munsee
Product Marketing Manager: Lee Williams
Associate Product Marketing Manager: Alexandra  Wilson

Ayzenberg Group:
VP, Strategy & Integration: Justin Hills
Account Director: Caroline Collins
Account Director: Geordie Larratt-Smith
Director, Operations: Cory Teale
Producer: Fiko Metjahic
Associate Director of Creative Strategy: Erik Schmitt
Designer: Michael Cortez
Associate Art Director: Gary Seastrom
Copywriter: Jasen Wong
Creative Director: Fern Espinoza
Associate Director of Strategy: Jude Ambrosio
Strategist: Alina Kontarev
Motion Graphics Designer: Vu Nyguen
Coordinator: Caitlin Miller

@TLStanleyLA T.L. Stanley is a senior editor at Adweek, where she specializes in consumer trends, cannabis marketing, meat alternatives, pop culture, challenger brands and creativity.