June 19, 2013

Microsoft gets futuristic at Cannes, while Axe takes a look back

Posted by: in Europe|North America

“This will be the year the TV goes through a massive transformation,” Microsoft’s Yusuf Mehdi declared at a Wednesday seminar at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. “It will become integrated, personal and an easy way to access content.” To illustrate what the future of TV—and entertainment in general—might look like, he previewed the Xbox One, which will “make it simple to access the content you want,” said the creative vice president of marketing and strategy for Xbox/Interactive Entertainment at Microsoft. “There will be no more hunting or memorizing channels.”

Due out in November, this $499 “all-in-one entertainment system” will include facial and voice recognition; gesture-based technology that allows for swiping, grabbing and zooming; custom home screens (even users within the same household will see different screens); the ability to see what’s popular with friends and the Xbox community; high-definition group Skyping; and Snap mode, which lets users run two programs simultaneously (e.g., a TV program alongside a Web browser).

Thanks to developments in cameras and sensors, Microsoft will also be able to “read” the consumer. To demonstrate, Mehdi showed the future of the Kinect system, which will be able to assess factors like skeletal makeup, orientation, muscle activity and force, heart rate and mood. In gaming, Microsoft is working on visual fidelity, making graphics stunningly beautiful and realistic; for instance, gamers will be able to see the finest detail of a car—the stitching on leather, carbon fiber, shading, even scratches on wheels. “Microsoft is engineering imperfection to make the experience feel perfect,” Mehdi said.

Earlier in the day at LinkedIn’s villa, CEO Jeff Weiner sat down for an interview with JWT Worldwide CEO Bob Jeffrey. Weiner said his long-term vision for the network is to move it well beyond being the professional graph: “The real dream for LinkedIn is to build the economic graph,” he explained. “We want to digitally represent every economic opportunity in the world.”

While Mehdi and Weiner looked forward, Unilever chief marketing and communications officer Keith Weed looked back—at the Axe brand’s 30-year history. How has Axe managed to stay relevant? By “being culturally iconic, courageously creative and connected everywhere,” said Weed. To stay eternally young, “We evolve, moving with consumers. … We tune in to the archetypes of the time. … We surf cultural waves. We move with the times,” he explained, pulling from Axe’s awesome archive to illustrate at every turn. “But we don’t just follow culture, we lead it. We want to be a part of the cultural zeitgeist.” To do this, Axe has created hit songs and dance moves, discovered talent, hosted underground dance parties, sponsored a yacht. It even owns a jet line.

Axe is courageous right to its core, Weed said. “We love tackling taboos. Nothing is off-limits.” (Look no further than the brand’s “Clean Your Balls” and “Premature Perspiration” viral hits.) What’s next? To go where no marketing campaign has gone before: Enter the Axe Apollo Space Academy, an integrated campaign that has consumers competing for one of 24 tickets to space. The tagline: “Leave a man. Come back a hero.” It turns out that nothing beats an astronaut.

Image credit: Microsoft

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