After a six-month search, Microsoft has announced the agencies for the pounds 330m European launch of its gaming console, Xbox.
Manning Selvage & Lee takes the role of lead agency, handling the European strategy for the six-figure launch. In the UK, The Red Consultancy will implement the campaign.
The search began following the appointment of Paul Fox as Xbox head of European communications (PRWeek, 18 August 2000).
Initially, some 20 agencies attended meetings to decide the feasibility of handling either the European or UK work.
Between five and six agencies actually pitched for each account, but Fox was not willing to disclose whom.
David Bennett heads the account for MS&L, and director Mike Morgan will lead for Red. Bennett reports to Fox while Morgan reports to Nick Grange, UK PR manager.
Xbox is scheduled to launch in Europe at the beginning of 2002, after debuting in the US around November. The PR campaign will have to position Microsoft as capable of producing a sexy games console like rivals Nintendo and Sony. Fox said: 'Xbox will head the brand, not Microsoft.'
The teams are already gearing up to deal with potential misconceptions around the games console, such as whether or not it is also a PC (it isn't).
It will compete with rival consoles like PlayStation 2 by promoting its amazing graphics, described by a source as 'like Toy Story 2 graphics, but in your living room'.
Xbox will be priced in the same region as Dreamcast and PlayStation were at launch, although an exact figure has yet to be released.
MS&L is also retained by games publisher Infogrames, where Fox was UK financial and corporate communications manager before joining Microsoft.