Xbox, ASA team up on anti-smoking campaign

LOS ANGELES: Microsoft's Xbox is increasing its outreach to high school students through an action sports and cause-marketing effort. The Xbox 360 Anti-Gravity Tour in support of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids will visit high schools across the country, starting September 22. Professional skateboarders and BMX athletes will perform and spread a message to keep kids from smoking.

LOS ANGELES: Microsoft's Xbox is increasing its outreach to high school students through an action sports and cause-marketing effort. The Xbox 360 Anti-Gravity Tour in support of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids will visit high schools across the country, starting September 22. Professional skateboarders and BMX athletes will perform and spread a message to keep kids from smoking.

 The game console partnered with ASA Entertainment, an event-planning group that hosts the action sports tours, on the initiative. ASA, which was already partnering with the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, pitched the idea to Xbox.

"ASA had a very important cause message associated with their proposal and that got our attention,Ó said Bobbie Washatka, group marketing manager for US creative marketing for Xbox. "It's allowing us to interact with the kids face-to-face in an environment where they [will] be getting a really important message not to smoke.Ó

The tour takes the form of a mandatory assembly at schools, and Xbox gaming consoles will be on hand for kids to play games like Guitar Hero 3, in addition to the action sports performances. ASA plans to launch an interactive Web site in mid-September to coincide with the tour. Xbox will also use its Web site to further promote the tour and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. 

"Action sports is one thing that gets this demographic excited" said Gabby Roe, president of ASA. Ò[It helps] to have respected individuals, who are similar in age, say, 'I don't smoke and I'm still cool.' The response has been tremendous."

The PR campaign, led in-house at both Xbox and ASA, is working with administrators to get kids excited through posters, fliers, and announcements leading up to the event. Local media will also be invited to the events, which are not open to the public.

"This is a message we want to deliver," Washatka said. "[We are] not just trying to sell the games and get the kids playing the games, but it actually has a good cause associated with it."

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