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Changing the Game

Brand: Microsoft
Lead Agency: McCann New York
Award Level: Grand Prize Winner, Category Winner
Year: 2019
Categories: Significant Results, People with Disabilities

Campaign Summary

As the brand committed to empowering everyone, Microsoft designed the first controller for gamers with limited mobility that enhances their gaming experience and empowers them to compete in new ways.


Microsoft is the empowerment brand. For years, the company has been championing accessibility and inclusion in tech. From inspiring young girls to stay in STEM, to developing technology to aid those with dyslexia, visual and audio impairment, this is a territory that the brand has been tremendously invested in as part of its core mission to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.

However, the video game industry has long ignored players with disabilities. As a result, gamers with disabilities would either hack together hodgepodge tools and homemade controllers or had to spend a lot of money on a custom controller just to be able to play. For most, gaming was impossible.

Target Audience

The campaign was designed to bring attention to the adaptive controller and raise awareness of the power of inclusive design to better the world, which is why the target audience included everyone, not just the 33 million American gamers living with disabilities.

Key Insights

Microsoft has had a long- standing commitment to creating accessible technology for everyone. With the launch of the Xbox Adaptive Controller, Microsoft wanted to challenge the gaming industry and put accessibility at the forefront of product design. With this, the company developed a campaign as inclusive and accessible as the adaptive controller itself.

Microsoft gave the device to gamers with limited mobility and filmed their experiences. Their voices and experiences playing with the adaptive controller became the backbone of each element of the campaign demonstrating the power of accessible technology to level the playing field and make the gaming world a more inclusive place.

The team spent four months visiting children with limited mobility and their parents in their homes across the U.S. Microsoft gave them adaptive controllers, helped them set them up, stepped back and watched them as they played. The company captured docu-style content highlighting the impact that this type of technology can have on people's lives and edited together the real stories of these children's experiences with the product.

Microsoft launched a long- form campaign video on social media platforms the Thursday before the game, in order to build momentum, and get the conversation going. Then the 60-second commercial launched during the Super Bowl. Its amplification involved social media influencers, including celebrities, the gaming community and gamers with limited mobility, and we saw the conversation take off across the internet. After the game, the conversation grew with coverage on key morning shows and across major press outlets.


"Changing the Game." 2019 ANA Multicultural Excellence Award Grand Prize Winner, Significant Results; Category Winner, People with Disabilities. Brand: Microsoft. Lead Agency: McCann New York.

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