House cleaners, hairdressers, guidance counselors and IT technicians got a $150 pack of Xbox freebies for opening their homes to at least 10 friends or relatives.
And they earned bragging rights.
"It's cool because the kids in my school were like 'oooh,' " says Aimee Maldonado, 40, a guidance counselor at a high school in Yonkers, N.Y. "They think I'm so cool."She was among the first 10,000 people in the U.S. to try a batch of new Xbox Live Internet-based games and services, which include streaming video, movie rentals from Netflix, as well as photo-sharing and other social-networking features and shopping.
Microsoft signed up Maldonado and the others to drum up interest among women like them in the services and the newest Xbox console, whose price was cut in the fall to $199.
"We've sold 20 million consoles to date globally since we launched three years ago," says Heather Snavely, Microsoft's director of interactive entertainment business global platforms. "In order to get to the next 20 million, we need to get a new audience of women and teens. We're going after them in ways that are different than ways we've done before."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).
Xbox found women including Maldonado and Chicago-area resident Danielle Jamil through a service called House Party, which sets up home parties for marketers. House Party has a database of 100,000 names of people who have provided a profile of personal information and who want to be "brand advocates." The advocates host a preplanned party to show off the marketer's brand to their friends.
Source: News Press