Go, Play with Microsoft Bing to Decode Jay-Z

In his first book, “Decoded,” pop culture icon Jay-Z describes the hidden meanings behind some of his most provocative songs and provides a highly personal narrative of the culture that shaped his life and art.

But some stories are believed to be bigger than the printed page. Bing, the search engine from Microsoft Corp., is launching a multiplatform search experience and interactive game to help people decode Jay-Z’s life and lyrics, said Microsoft.

In fact, Microsoft has been taking various steps to promote its relatively new search utility Bing to challenge the dominance of search leader Google. In this direction, of late, the software major used Bing Travel to woo traveling consumers during the upcoming holiday season.

The Fareologists at Bing Travel have issued a preliminary outlook for the 2010 holiday season. (Read: Quick Tips for Smart Holiday Travel)

Among its other initiatives to venture out into emerging market segments, Microsoft says this fall, Zune will expand its music and video footprint and bring the free Zune software, Zune Marketplace online store, Zune Pass music subscription service and enhanced features on Zune.net to new markets. (Read: Zune Going Global with Multiscreen Entertainment)

Plus, Microsoft Advertising says that companies are bringing their brands to Kinect for Xbox 360, the new controller-free gaming and entertainment experience that responds to body movement.

Chevrolet, Sprint and T-Mobile USA Inc. will each launch respective ad campaigns throughout the Kinect console experience, “Kinect Sports,” “Kinect Adventures” and “Kinect Joy Ride” game titles. (Read: How Top Brands Will Use Kinect for Xbox 360)

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Traditionally, Microsoft has been an enterprise software company. However, it has been making big strides to capture mass markets. In a similar attempt, recently the company made a major announcement with Windows Phone 7. 

With a host of fun features, including music and games, integrated into the new devices, Microsoft – with its partners – has introduced nine new Windows Phone 7 handsets. (Read: New Windows Phone 7: Phone for Fun)

And now comes Jay-Z. Microsoft says Jay-Z’s words will be taken a step further, allowing fans to use Bing and decide how to find the locations that inspired them.

Every single page of Jay-Z’s book will be released to the public before the book is in stores, with pages physically placed in locations related to their specific content.

The immersive journey will take players from the projects in the Brooklyn neighborhood where Jay-Z grew up and the London streets where he found inspiration to the building of his empire in Manhattan and beyond.

Fans physically in those locations and those playing online with Bing will be offered insights into Jay-Z’s personal process. In addition to media placements around the world, all 300 pages of “Decoded” will be appearing in places and on objects that have not been used as advertising.

From pools and pool tables to bronze plaques and high-fashion clothing racks, a variety of unexpected surfaces will become the canvas for Jay-Z’s art, says Microsoft.

And it will be up to fans to decide how to find these pages using Bing. Online, fans will find a search experience built on Bing technologies and will be able to walk the streets that Jay-Z walked and use Bing to search and decide how to decode his life and lyrics at every turn.

The immersive online experience utilizes multiple facets of Bing, including Bing Maps and Bing Entertainment, to give fans full access to the stories behind Jay-Z’s songs.

Over the course of a month, fans will come together as a community to compile “Decoded” online before it hits bookshelves. 

More than 300 pages to decode, located via 600 unique traditional, nontraditional and digital advertising placements in 15 cities around the world and in Bing Maps, 200 prize winners, one grand prize winner, and the unveiling of “Decoded” — in the next four weeks.

Produced by creative agency Droga5, the game launches today (Oct. 18) and five to 10 new pages from “Decoded” will be unveiled each day, until the contest ends Nov. 20.

Players of the game answer clues to find the “Decoded” pages in the online game experience at Bing.com/Jay-Z or in-person by locating the clues in New York, London and beyond.

Any player who locates a page online or in-person (by texting unique game codes from the page) is entered into a drawing for a prize: the specific page they have located, signed by Jay-Z.

All participants will be entered for a grand prize: two tickets to see Jay-Z and Coldplay in concert in Las Vegas on New Year’s Eve.

“Decoded” is on sale Nov. 16 from Spiegel & Grau, an imprint of the Random House Publishing Group.

Photo courtesy: Microsoft

RMN News

Rakesh Raman