Watch the Xbox advert that was banned from TV for being too controversial almost 20 years ago

IT has been 20 years since the first Xbox was released to the delight of millions.

Tuesday, 16th November 2021, 2:40 pm
Xbox sign. Picture: FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images
Xbox sign. Picture: FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images

Microsoft marked two decades of its flagship game console yesterday.

But it also means that it has now been almost 20 years since one of the first Xbox adverts aired on TV in the UK was banned from our screens.

In the video – which you can view in the embedded link – it starts with a woman giving birth.

But from that point on things get a little bit surreal, to say the least.

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The newborn baby boy shoots out of a window, flying out across a city and over the British countryside – rapidly aging as he goes.

As the man reaches old age, he crashes back down to earth and smashes into a grave.

The advert, known as ‘Champagne’, then ends with the following text appearing on the screen: ‘Life is short. Play more.’

It was aired in early 2002 ahead of the Xbox’s release in the UK.

From the BBC report on June 6 of that year it seems like the advert made a big splash at the time – just in a bad way.

It racked up over 130 complaints with viewers labelling it ‘offensive, shocking and with bad taste’.

Among the people who complained were a pregnant woman, a new mother and a woman who had lost a baby during childbirth.

At the time, Microsoft defended the advert saying that it conveyed a ‘positive message about life’.

However the Independent Television Commission (ITC) said that the man's screams ‘suggested a traumatic experience which, together with the reminder that life is short, made the final scene more shocking’.

The advert was banned from TV by the watchdog on June 4, 2002.

It went on to win awards at the Cannes Lion festival that year as well as at British Television Advertising Awards in 2003.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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