Sesame Street has been a television show for over 40 years, teaching children basic educational elements since the late ’60s. While their philosophy hasn’t changed, they’ve remained at the forefront of relevancy by embracing new trends and technologies . . . like Kinect. Sesame Street, along with National Geographic, teamed up with Microsoft to produce two Kinect 2-Way TV titles designed to create a space between television content and video games. We talked with Brandy O’Briant, Group Product Marketing Manager of Playful Learning Products at Microsoft, about the Kinect 2-Way TV titles.

Microsoft worked with Ayzenberg Group to develop the visual ID and packaging for Kinect 2-Way TV titles

What were the origins of the Kinect 2-Way TV titles and what did you hope to accomplish with them?

Brandy O’Briant: Microsoft Studios was looking for news ways to demonstrate the power of Kinect and transform entertainment for consumers. In the kids space in particular we were also purposefully looking for entertainment other than traditional games that would appeal to a growing audience for Xbox. The #1 entertainment activity for kids was TV consumption, and we wanted to be relevant where their eyeballs were directed. At the same time, we had pioneering partners like Sesame Workshop and National Geographic eager to extend their reach and connection with kids and bold enough to learn on-the-fly with us in creating an entirely new TV format.

Were there any lesson’s learned from Double Fine’s Once Upon a Monster?

“Sesame Street: Once Upon A Monster” and Kinect Sesame Street TV are fundamentally different products but both were designed to provide users with a meaningful interactive experience through close collaboration with Sesame Workshop. Just as Sesame Workshop is known for being pioneers in education, we are known for making fun, interactive experiences. In both Double Fine’s “Sesame Street: Once Upon A Monster” and the more recent “Kinect Sesame Street TV”, our team was able to collaborate with Sesame to deliver truly unique experiences that brought the beloved worlds of Sesame Street to life.

Talk to me about the branding and packaging and how you used that to make these products appealing to both kids and families.

We wanted to make the branding and packaging appealing to families, but we also had the added challenge of communicating the product. Something this new and innovative isn’t easy to communicate visually. People have no real reference point for 2-Way TV experiences. Our goal was to capture the magic of actually being in the TV show and the joy the viewer has in that transformation.

Are the educational benefits a large part of the messaging for the game to tout the educational benefits to parents?

 The partners we worked with — Sesame Street and National Geographic — are two of the best names in good-for-you learning content. To a large degree, they spoke for themselves. When a parent sees those brands, they know that there is trusted educational content inside.

How did you balance concerns from making sure the messaging got out about this 2-Way TV and already established branding for Nat Geo and Sesame Street at the same time?

The two messages worked well together, especially given that both products were based on actual TV shows, ‘Sesame Street’ and Nat Geo WILD channels ‘America the Wild’. This carried the TV message supported by two strong and established brands.

For the TV spots for the the Kinect 2-Way TV titles, was it seen as important to narrate them from the kid’s perspective in order to make them seem like a fun thing for them to do?

From a creative standpoint, we had kids narrate the spots to reinforce the idea that Kinect Sesame Street TV empowers kids to use their imaginations, their whole bodies, and their voices to control their 2-way TV experience.

Is Kinect 2-Way seen as an important extensions of the Kinect brand to more than just explicit video game titles?

Absolutely. Kinect is so much more than gaming and the 2-Way TV experiences are the tip of the iceberg. We see a lot of possibility for the future of television entertainment, with Xbox and Kinect as the centerpiece.

What sort of television programming will we see ads for Kinect 2-Way TV titles and where else will it be advertised?

2-Way TV experiences will be promoted in our Xbox channels and social networks, including, Facebook, Twitter, Live and email.  You will also see the Kinect Nat Geo TV ads on various National Geographic channels and media.

Brandy, thanks.