It's not every day you get 10 of the same t-shirt for free
So, I spent more time waiting in a non-moving line than I had ever done before in my entire life. That's right; I went as one of the huddled masses to Microsoft's official Kinect launch party in Times Square last night, and got more swag that I could have ever imagined.
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Yeah, last night was the culmination of a more-than-year-long marketing campaign from Microsoft, the likes of which had never been seen before. Microsoft specifically stated that its promotional budget for Kinect was greater than any Xbox product ever.
Fans waited at the Toys R Us in Times Square for as long as two days for the launch of Kinect, but for many it was less about the actual product and more about the experience, and the opportunity to get free stuff. Usually at these official launch events, you may be lucky enough to get a t-shirt, or maybe a special offer like a free game for buying the product there that night.
But last night, I ended up getting 10 (yes, TEN) Kinect t-shirts, a beanie cap, two umbrellas, two ponchos, $21 in Burger King gift cards, and five free Xbox Live Avatar outfits (all of which are the same). That's on top of the two free Kinect games and one year of Xbox Live Gold service I got for buying the Kinect at the official launch party. And of the people around me, I was actually among the low end of the swag earners. I have never seen such a high volume of swag for a single product in one place in my entire life.
A Kinect official confirmed to me that Microsoft printed up 9,000 t-shirts for the event, even though the company's best expectation was for 3,000 people to show up. It didn't even meet that. Event personnel ended up desparately trying to give away the free shirts, sometimes handing handfulls of them to people who already had a half dozen of them. Lucky tourists who happened to be walking by event got free stuff.
After waiting in line for nearly nine hours, meeting Burger King's "The King," Xbox's Major Nelson, and Kinect guru Kudo Tsunoda, I was one of the first to pick up my own Kinect and will certainly be putting it through its paces today.
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Last night's launch event wasn't quite a deal of Oprah proportions, but every single one of the more than 1,000 people who showed up ended up walking away a happy camper. Kudos to Microsoft on a very well executed event.