Xbox turns 20 today, and while we're remembering some of the most amazing Xbox-related games and events of the past two decades, it's perhaps worth mentioning the amazing British TV commercial for the console's launch which was banned following a handful of complaints.
Called 'Champagne' but often referred to unofficially as 'Life Is Short', the commercial shows a baby being born, only to shoot through the sky and age at a rapid rate before landing in a grave, followed by the 'Life is short, play more' tagline.
The commercial attracted 136 complaints from viewers who deemed the advert was 'offensive, shocking and in bad taste'. Microsoft defended the ad, but was overruled by the Independent Television Commission who claimed that it was 'traumatic' and 'shocking'.
You can view the commercial below:
Speaking to Gamesindustry.biz in 2016, European advertising manager Harvey Eagle said:
I remember that we set out to create a piece of content that would get shared virally and that we thought would be a really cool way to introduce people to the Xbox brand.
The ad agency at the time we were working with was BBH [Bartle Bogle Hegarty], and within BBH we had been assigned a young upcoming creative team, who were French and were two guys called Fred and Farid. They were a highly talented, very prolific creative team.
I always think that the very best ideas are the ones that are simple enough to be described in just a few of sentences. They basically described to me that: 'There's a baby who catapults through the hospital window at birth, it ages from cradle to grave as it flies through the air, and then it crashes into the grave as an old man. Then words comes up that says: 'Life is Short Play More'." At that moment I knew that that was the one, because of its brilliant simplicity.
We did end up putting the ad on TV. Infamously, the ad was banned after really only a small handful of complaints. But those complaints were upheld, and of course that only served to help its notoriety even further.
When you're new, you have to be clear about what you stand for as a brand. And I think that particular idea really encapsulated everything that we were trying to represent as a new brand in the video games industry.