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Microsoft pulls handgun 360 ad

"Standoff" promo shows citizens "shooting" each other with imaginary weapons. Company says ad shown only to select audiences.

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The launch of the Xbox 360 not only brought with it long lines, mass console shortages, and panic among parents, but it was also accompanied by a barrage of promotions, advertisements, and marketing. The creative types responsible for marketing the console came up with a clever ad that touted the 360's communal feel.

Problem is, hardly anyone saw it.

The commercial, dubbed "Standoff," begins with two normal men exchanging "You gotta problem?" looks at each other while passing in a busy building. One brandishes a "handgun"--literally, his hand with fingers bent to form the shape of a gun--and points it at the other gentleman. The targeted individual returns the favor, and soon everyone in the building is wielding some form of imaginary weapon and pointing them at one another in a tense moment.

One pulls his "trigger" and accompanies the shot by saying, "bang!" and a faux fragfest ensues. The shooting spills out into the street, and all types of people get involved in the action, taking aim at each other and collapsing when they are "shot."

The ad never made it to television, and was seen only in brief appearances at Microsoft's promotional events, such as the Zero Hour launch event in Southern California. It did, however, flourish on the Internet, where several Web sites have hosted it.

Being the hotbed of speculation that it is, Internet users came to their own conclusions about the ad's fate. Some thought that even the gestures of shooting people could have been deemed too violent, so Microsoft's lawyers pulled it. Others believed that either the FCC or television networks didn't approve the spot, keeping it out of the public.

When contacted about the ad, Microsoft told GameSpot, "While these particular rumors are not substantiated, Microsoft did make the conscious decision to only preview the ad to select audiences and not to air on network TV. The ad is called Standoff and we did 'preview' it with the lucky gamers who attended the recent Zero Hour launch event in Palmdale, Calif., which presented an ideal hard core gaming audience to introduce this ad spot to."

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