The Xbox 360 is utilizing a marketing strategy that is reminiscent of the Tupperware and Mary Kay Cosmetics parties of old and despite the radical change in product, the target audience hasn’t changed. To that end, Microsoft recently invited 1,000 women from around the country to host events in their homes as a way of showcasing many of the Xbox’s new web-based games and services to their family and friends. USA Today reports:
The Xbox event hosts used their own Xbox 360 consoles to demonstrate the new services, which also require broadband Internet service and subscriptions to Netflix and Xbox Live, a service that offers social-networking activities and game play with friends in other cities.
They got an Xbox party pack of freebies that included microwaveable popcorn, Xbox trivia game Scene It? Box Office Smash, an Xbox universal media remote control, a three-month subscription to Xbox Live, and 1,600 Xbox Live points (used for game, movie and TV show purchases).
The idea behind these parties is simple – a product endorsement coming from a person you know and trust in a pressure free environment (nothing is actually being sold at these gatherings) will go a lot further towards making a sale than any amount of commercial advertising. The company behind this revival is the aptly named House Party, a viral marketing firm that specializes in linking enthusiastic consumers or “brand advocates” with interested brands.
Marketers pay House Party from $120,000 for holding 1,000 parties to $300,000 for up to 5,000 parties. The marketer’s only additional costs are for such incidentals as the sample box for hosts.
Microsoft was one of the 43 clients for which House Party orchestrated events this year. Others included Fisher-Price, Kmart, Kraft, Poland Spring water and Clairol. Next year, the company has more than 85 parties lined up.
We’re not sure how we feel about hanging out with friends while gathered around a shiny new product, but in a society where time is already at premium, any excuse to get together seems like a worthwhile endeavor. Whether or not this will do the same for our relationships with these brands, however, remains to be seen.