The Halo 3 Marketing Machine

While flying to New York today I was reading an industry magazine and came across a Halo 3 cross-promotional ad that caught my attention. Outside of this ad featuring Halo 3 & 7-11, the teams at Bungie and Microsoft are collaborating with a number of brands and agencies, including the same team that brought you 7-11’s transformed into Kwik-E-Marts, to kick off a Halo 3 go-to-market campaign that will be assaulting mainstream audiences faster than Master Chief can blast a covenant elite with a dual-wielded mauler.

It looks as though Halo 3 inspired Mountain Dew will be flying into 7-11 sometime in August. This promotion will also see Halo 3 Slurpee cups and Master Chief emblazoned bags of Doritos. The Doritos campaign will be tied to a voice cameo contest for the upcoming Ensemble Studios Halo Wars title. I have been very impressed with 7-11’s strategy over the past year. You would not think that a convenience store would have this type of marketing prowess but the proof is in the tie-in’s… Spider Man, the Simpsons, and Halo. And this only accounts for campaigns launched in 2007.

Regarding Halo’s GTM strategy, other brands will also leverage Master Chief to help cross-promote their offerings. Pontiac, Burger King and even a Halo 3 sponsorship for an upcoming music tour featuring acts like Linkin Park are just a few of the publicly available elements of the upcoming campaign. All of this does not include the Microsoft centric items such as Halo 3 branded Xbox 360’s, controllers and Zunes.

What this tells me is that the point is no longer to just make a game that entertains. The main goal now is to develop something that can transcend a niche genre and break through to the mainstream. It happened with Pac Man in the 80’s, it has happened with the Electronic Arts Madden franchise which is the best selling franchise of all time and now Halo is primed to cross into the mainstream by following the road taken by many a Hollywood blockbuster… meaning directly into kids meals at Burger King and on the bag of chips you eat in your living room… while playing Halo 3. Who says marketing doesn’t work?

MasterChief

2 thoughts on “The Halo 3 Marketing Machine”

  1. I see two issues with Halo becoming so mainstream:

    1. Halo 1 and 2 were rated Mature. If Halo starts showing up in 711 and in Happy Meals, then I have a problem with that. It’s bad enough that half the time I’m playing with 10 year olds on xbox live even for games like Gears of War and Crackdown. Parents take note: The xbox is not a babysitter.

    2. So much hype ruins the experience and gives the game a greater chance of being a let down.

    It seems that the game industry is going the way of the movie industry by taking the approach of blitzing the market and building up hype for a game so that they can sell a lot of copies on release/opening day. If the publisher can make their money back in the first day, then it doesn’t matter if the game is utter crap and sells no more copies the day after the reviews come out. This is a sad state of affairs, and I hope the trend begins to reverse itself and publishers begin to realize that making a good game is still important.

    1. Great response Karthik! I like to look at it strictly from a marketing perspective, but from an experience standpoint you are correct. I have small children and I do not let them play T or M rated titles and there are issues with taking an M rated title to this demographic, i.e. kids meals. I believe on the surface it looks more like they view Master Chief as a very marketable asset to a younger audience in the form of licensing toys, etc… Regarding the strategy to get it out with a big bang, you are correct as well. It looks as though more and more of the big titles have a large initial push, but for most gamers I think it is safe to assume that we do want to hear a recap or from a trusted source prior to just buying the game.

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