Eager to snatch a piece of the Nintendo Sw-oled attention (or just a cosmic coincidence brought on by most of the U.S. returning from a holiday break) Xbox released a new marketing campaign for its All Access program that’ll appeal to connoisseurs of ‘90s R&B.
Called “It’s All There,” the ad is a music video from popular ‘90s R&B group All-4-One. The song is actually an Xbox-ified remix of the group’s “I Swear,” the song that earned All-4-One a Grammy for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocals in 1995.
I appreciate Microsoft’s dedication to authenticity. “It’s All There” is throwback to the halcyon days of the ‘90s slow jam complete with tracksuits, oversized actual suits, and the stark, blue camera filter common in videos like En Vogue’s “Never Gonna Get It” and Boyz II Men’s “End of the Road.” The music video could have been plucked straight from MTV Jams or VH1 Soul right down to the choice to use a similar font MTV used for its music video credits.
The video is slowly making the rounds on social media, where it’s being praised for its fun and quirky approach to selling Xboxes, including earning a lot of praise from influencers in the Black gaming community. Though the commercial isn’t specifically targeting Black gamers (or maybe it is!) it does a very good job of speaking to a Black audience. How could you do anything but talk to a Black audience by bringing in a majority Black and Brown ‘90s R&B group who sang what the elders called “baby making music?” This is Black in the way Teena Marie and Bobby Caldwell are Black. They famously are not, but...they are.
This old-head inspired marketing push is being used to advertise Xbox’s All Access program. For a monthly fee and a two-year contract, All Access allows consumers to purchase an Xbox and 24 months of Game Pass for no money down. The program was introduced in 2018 with the Xbox One X/S and continues now with next-gen Series consoles.
Despite the video’s charming nostalgia factor, I can’t help but wonder who this ad is for. New console buyers are usually people in their late teens and early twenties and therefore far outside the age range of anybody who actually remembers All-4-One. I myself was born in 1987, but I still had to do a quick Google to remind myself of “I Swear.” No shade to All-4-One of course, but if your goal was to capitalize on fond memories of teens slow dancing in a gym, rhythmlessly rocking back and forth, maybe a more popular song would have been the move. That said, Microsoft isn’t alone in this trend of resurrecting the corpse of “I Love The ‘90s’’. Geico Insurance brought in Salt-N-Pepa in 2014 for its “Push It” commercial and more recently Tag Team for “Scoop, There It Is.” Kotaku reached out to Microsoft and All-4-One for comment, but didn’t receive a response.
Nostalgia is a powerful marketing tool, as is music, and I cannot help but to give props to Microsoft’s decision to make something unambiguously and beautifully Black as hell.
I just think Microsoft missed the mark on the age range by just a bit. However, I do look forward to stories of 42-year-old, socks and sandals, “What you know about this right here?” uncles buying their first Xboxes soon. Which, for Microsoft’s bottom line, still counts as a win.