Cannes Lions

Beyond Generations

McCANN , London / MICROSOFT / 2021

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According to the charity AgeUK, a million elderly people go a month without speaking to another person, and since the pandemic the issue has only got worse. Yet gaming amongst the younger generation is on the rise, with people using Xbox as a tool to connect, socialise and maintain friendships. We wanted to shine a light on the relationship-building potential of modern online gaming and help bridge the generational divide by enabling the young and old to reconnect.


Xbox launched ‘Beyond Generations’, an initiative to connect young and old through the power of gaming.

We conducted an experiment with two sets of families – Howard and his grandson Dhillon, and Mary and her grandson Jason – both of which were was suffering from loneliness and isolation. Shot over the course of a 4-week period we witnessed the grandchildren helping to set up their grandparent’s consoles via a video call before venturing into the virtual worlds together. As the days and weeks passed by, we witnessed their relationships blossom as they began to open up to each other about their lives as they sailed the virtual seas in ‘Sea of Thieves’ and went on virtual road trips in ‘Forza’


“It feels like you’ve been thrown in the deep end, and there’s nobody there help you” and “I sometimes just walk down to the supermarket just so I can talk to someone” - two heart-breaking accounts by elderly people describing their crippling fight against loneliness. The older generation are feeling more isolated and detached from the world than ever, and with people living busier lives with more work and social commitments it has become all too easy to lose touch with them. Xbox knew that gaming had the power to bring people together and wanted to show that you’re never too old to learn a new skill as we set out to bridge the generational between old and young over a shared experience of playing a game.


The ‘Beyond Generations’ platform was launched in the UK on 18 Dec 2020. Two documentary films were commissioned; each followed the real-life stories of two different families who had lost touch, whether it was through distance or just growing apart. Shot over the course of 4 weeks, ReBoxed Xbox consoles were gifted to the elderly relatives by their grandkids, and new relationships were formed over games. The films lived on Xbox’s YouTube page, as well as being promoted on social channels.

Xbox partnered with leading retirement home network, to supply consoles in a number of their homes across the UK.


While the primary aim was to foster (re)connection between families, the campaign also had the effect of bringing a previously untapped audience (the elderly) into the Xbox ecosystem. The two films received the highest percentage of positive sentiment from any piece of content released by Xbox before – despite the gaming community being one of the most critical and hardest to please. Some of the comments received said ‘Xbox Cured Loneliness’ and ‘Achievement Unlocked: Family Bonding’. It seemed the films really touched people, as everyone could relate to the issue of loneliness and make them think hard about their own relationship with grandparents.

Xbox’s end goal was to deliver on their brand mantra ‘when everybody plays, we all win’ proving that gaming should be inclusive for all. The most important result from the campaign could never be a number or a figure, but the families that reconnected through this experience.

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