Q&A: Sailesh Jani, Global Business Director at M:United

by Jessica Ramesh

Sailesh Jani is Global Business Director at M:United, McCann London’s dedicated Microsoft team. He joined McCann London’s CEO Zaid Al-Zaidy at the Figaro Digital Marketing Conference on 16 July 2015 to discuss the agency’s work with Xbox. We caught up with Sailesh for a quick preview of the presentation

McCann London recently worked with Xbox to engage the loyal Halo 5:Guardians fanbase. What did the project involve?

The challenge for our recent Halo 5: Guardians work was very much around engaging and rewarding a highly expectant and loyal fanbase. More than a normal ARG, we created an integrated campaign as part of the global Halo #HuntThe… initiative with the pure objective of rewarding fans with an immersive, challenging and innovative journey into the Halo universe. As an agency we needed to work effectively with top technology partners like B-Reel, and collaborate hand-in-hand with Xbox and the game developer with a very strong and deep narrative universe. Doing it justice was key. Developers 343 Industries trusting us with such an important IP was huge for us.

This was a campaign that bridged online and offline. Do you think the distinction between the two is becoming less relevant?

In the pursuit of a truly immersive experience, it can help not to think about pure media channels or in terms of on and offline, but more about the impact and emotional reaction you’re trying to create—and then work out the best way to affect them. We wanted to move our challenges across channels and platforms and into the real world to give the fanbase a truly unique experience. Mobile allowed us to stay personal whilst opening the door to the more innovative team-based challenges.

What do you think are the hallmarks of a genuinely interactive digital experience and are there any brands or campaigns which you’d point to as doing particularly great work in this field?

Simplicity, innovation and purpose. There are such great examples out there of brands and experiences pushing boundaries. Adidas did well from an interactive standpoint with the All In or Nothing campaign, given what Nike had done with #Riskeverything. But for me The Other Side campaign from Honda for the launch of the Civic and Civic Type R was fantastic. It had all the ingredients to raise eyebrows and showed a great understanding of interactivity and execution from brand and agency.

‘Engaging a fanbase that’s probably smarter then you’ is the title of your conference presentation. Do you think brands are playing catch-up with users’ expectations, and if so how what advice would you have?

Embrace the challenge. With the rich array of experiences and channels being used by brands out there and the burgeoning world of social media, the consequence is an expectant consumer base that’s harder to engage in the right way. The great thing, of course, is that it means we’ll all continue to challenge ourselves to create better experiences. As much as we in the industry feel we’re ahead of the curve and (quite rightly) make huge efforts to educate ourselves and stay ahead, sometimes it’s best to simply celebrate the fans and consumers for who they are and use that to drive you to better, more immersive and innovative solutions.