Microsoft’s Bus Shelters Make You Feel Like You’re Inside Its New Video Game

Getting immersive for Sunset Overdrive
Adweek by Lauren Johnson, November 11, 2014

If you’re like a lot of commuters these days, you’re glued to your smartphone while sitting at a bus stop. So, how do advertisers get your attention? Microsoft, for one, is turning boring bus shelters into souped-up digital ads.

The company decked out three bus stops in San Francisco, London and Melbourne (with the help of Clear Channel Outdoor, Empowering Media and Grand Visual) to promote its new shooter game Sunset Overdrive.

The ads look like normal digital screens from afar, but when you get closer, they use augmented reality to make passersby feel like they’re in the game. Mutant characters look as if they’re about to jump out at you while other images from the game appear on the screen.

“Our big challenge for Sunset Overdrive is it’s a new title, it’s part of a new franchise that people don’t necessarily have a lot of brand recognition for,” said Julie Lowe, group marcom manager at Xbox. “There’s a trend in video game advertising to do increasingly new and inventive things, and this is something we haven’t seen anywhere else.”

The bus shelters will be live for one month and are complemented with other promotions in New York, Toronto, Los Angeles and London.

In London, Microsoft set up a giant crate in public. When passersby got inside the crate, it triggered an augmented reality experience. And in New York’s Times Square, video screens promote the game too.

“This is not a one-time thing—we are really looking for iconic executions for Sunset Overdrive,” said Gustavo Alvarado, senior marcom manager for Xbox global. “Because you’re going for those iconic placements, [out-of-home advertising] allows us the reach that we’re looking for.”

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