International News: Microsoft preps for dollars 500m Xbox launch with exec hire

LONDON: Microsoft has hired a head of European communications for the upcoming dollars 500 million launch of its Xbox gaming console.

LONDON: Microsoft has hired a head of European communications for the upcoming dollars 500 million launch of its Xbox gaming console.

LONDON: Microsoft has hired a head of European communications for

the upcoming dollars 500 million launch of its Xbox gaming console.



Computer game PR expert Paul Fox joins Microsoft from game publisher

Infogrames, where he was the company’s UK financial and corporate

communications manager. Before that, the 28-year-old worked for Eidos on

the launch of Tomb Raider, which features cyberbabe Lara Croft.



Budgets and fees have not yet been set for the European campaign.

However, in a series of analyst briefings last week, it was revealed

that Microsoft was putting more than dollars 500 million behind the

worldwide launch of Xbox, making it the company’s most costly product

launch - including Windows 2000.



Although the console isn’t due out until fall 2001, there are already

numerous web sites dedicated to it. Xbox is being positioned as a rival

to Sony’s PlayStation 2, due out in November, and a Nintendo console

codenamed Dolphin, still in development.



Reporting to Julie Armitage, European marketing director of Microsoft’s

home and retail division, Fox is set to hire both staff and agencies for

the launch. Fox said he would appoint three regional PR managers, based

in the UK, France and Germany, and hire local agencies, as well as one

central agency. He said he expects to make the appointments within the

next two months.



Fox said he is looking for a ’mainstream’ agency. ’We want renegade,

left-field ideas, but also a bit of structure,’ he said. ’While it is a

gaming launch, we can’t get away from the fact we’re Microsoft - we need

certain systems and structures.’



The agencies will work on consumer PR, with trade media and specialist

gaming press targeted in-house.



In a press release, Microsoft said it is not concerned with its status

as a newcomer to the gaming console industry. The company said it

recognizes that ’the video game business is all about the games. From

Atari to Nintendo to Sega to PlayStation, it has historically been shown

again and again that gamers are loyal to the games.’



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