$10M marketing blitz, 10,000-store launch for Halo 3

Microsoft sparing no expense to promote and distribute Xbox 360 shooter, including NASCAR sponsorship; Xbox Live Gold free from September 25-27 to allow open-access online play.

by

When Halo 2 was released in November 2004, Microsoft made much of the fact it generated over $125 million in 24 hours--making it one of the biggest entertainment product launches of all time. With Halo 3's release just two weeks away, the software giant is pulling out all the stops to promote and distribute the Xbox 360 exclusive.

Three of the four nerd food groups.

First, the hype. To date, Microsoft has spent $10 million on a five-stage publicity campaign for Halo 3, as outlined in an article in this week's Brandweek magazine. It began with a TV spot during Monday Night Football last December that was seen by an estimated 7.9 million people on air and a further 3 million on YouTube. Then came the beta test, which saw over 820,000 players take the Master Chief through his multiplayer paces. The vast majority of the players gained access to the test by buying Crackdown, which was bundled with--and buoyed by--a packed-in Halo 3 beta key.

Less high-profile was Project Iris. The "project" was yet another attempt by Microsoft to generate viral buzz for a product via an alternate reality game along the lines of ilovebees.com, which sparked widespread public interest--and press consternation--during the summer of 2004. Possibly because of Microsoft's frequent use of ARGs, including the 360-hyping ourcolony.net, Project Iris generated only a fraction of the interest as ilovebees.com did.

The wax Master Chief assaults Fall Out Boy's Pete Wentz, with regrettably nonfatal results.

Phase four of Microsoft's Halo 3 hype offensive was a wave of cross-product promotional synergy normally reserved for summer blockbuster movies. Microsoft struck deals with PepsiCo for a Halo 3-branded Mountain Dew and Doritos, and with 7-Eleven and Burger King for in-store promotions--including Halo 3 Slurpee drinks. Microsoft also took less conventional approaches, sponsoring Linkin Park's Projekt Revolution tour, a Halo 3 NASCAR vehicle, and even a Master Chief figurine at the Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum in Las Vegas. According to BrandWeek, it also convinced Pontiac to pony up $5 million of its own money to pay for Halo 3 IMAX events, like the one tonight at San Francisco's formerly Sony-owned Metreon.

As outlined on the official Xbox site, the Halo 3 hype machine's endgame is a fusillade of events surrounding the game's September 25 launch. Though it didn't provide specific locations, Microsoft is claiming some 10,000 retail stores in the US alone will be holding midnight launch events for Halo 3.

One participating retailer is Best Buy, which will also pay for Xbox Live Gold to be free for everyone from September 25-27, allowing anyone to play Halo 3's various online modes, including four-player co-op. Anyone who plays Halo 3 online during the period will be automatically entered into a sweepstakes which will see Best Buy giving away a Halo 3-themed Pontiac, as well as home theater systems and Microsoft points to spend on Xbox Live Marketplace.

Not exactly a Banshee, but it'll do...

From September 28-30, Microsoft will be holding its own Play and Win sweepstakes, which will hand out Halo 3-themed Xbox 360s and Zunes, among other prizes. The company will also be staging its own special, celebrity-studded launch Halo 3 events in New York City, Los Angeles, and Seattle. It will also release unspecified launch-week content on Xbox Live Marketplace to commemorate the game's launch.

To find out whether the multimillion campaign was worth the effort, check back during Halo 3's launch week for GameSpot's full review of the game.

Discussion

315 comments
Thorned_
Thorned_

every game has immature idiots. ppl jus talk about it more in Halo because more people played Halo. period.

dithindious
dithindious

I think that xbox live should have a voice test and if ur voice is too high and your profile has your gender set to male then you can't play online or at least use the headset, that would solve a few problems, jus a few though unfortunantly :( lol at the fall out boy dig and cant wait to play halo on 4 way co-op!!

caboose301
caboose301

stop spoiling the game for people pos

RoC1909
RoC1909

@Absolutezerr ABSOLUTELY!!! One of the MAIN reasons I DO NOT play games online is because of all the immature idiots. With Halo 3 being the huge hit that it will, it's only going to get worse. Frankly, I was thinking that if I did a little gaming from midnight of launch until the afternoon, I would get some decent players since all the 'kiddies' should be in school. But as you mentioned, their parents will probably give them the 'day off' since we all know that parents these days are some of the worst and believe that gaming is more important than school.

jwg13
jwg13

Halo 3 is gonna suck. How can they kill Miranda Keyes and Sargent Johnson? Of course Master Chief lives. He goes back to sleep in a chamber like the one they woke him up from in Halo 1. They gotta keep him alive for the next Halo game. I love how people really think this will be the last Halo game from Bungie.

solidsnake2050
solidsnake2050

Wait, wait...... wait..... Best Buy is paying Microsoft to allow EVERYONE with halo 3 to play it online for free from sept. 25-28?!?! how much money did they have to drop for that??

dancing_OGRE
dancing_OGRE

I think the three day gold trial is a great Idea to get more people online. 4 player online co-op and sharing saved films is going be amazing. I think loads of people will realise the great competition and fun of online play their missing out on. More people with gold means better games and more money funding updates.

Homerj
Homerj

Like Halo really needs marketing...I think its all the corporate partners that are really getting the positive benefit from the marketing (ie riding coat-tails as it were).

NinjaMunkey01
NinjaMunkey01

since nearly everyone outside the us dosent watch nascar they should have put advertising into the world cup scince they are doing the qualifying bit now. England won against russia yay! and scotland won against france that was funny. MS really wants this to sell, but they seem to be trying tooo hard, as if they do not have enough preorders already. And until now I have never heard of mountin dew, sounds discusting. who wants to drink dew?

Absolutezerr
Absolutezerr

$10 million? How much do they expect this to help? All it will do is destroy the Halo online community further. "Mommy, the master chief is on my slushie, get me this game or I'll scream REALLY LOUD!" "Ok, dear." And on sept. 25, I'll be playing Halo online, and I'll hear little Timmy telling me to go f*** myself in his high-pitched voice, while his stupid parents stand by and say, "Isn't that cute. Our son knows what f*** means." At least there's a mute button now. I just want to finish the fight. Online is a plus, which hopefully won't be ruined by little kids who try to sound like big black men this time around.

dbeddow
dbeddow

I want the painting on the wall behind the car (the car too). That would look F..in sweet in my game room :)

trickyspider
trickyspider

woot woot!!! datz halo aiite.... i want dat car.. sik machine

TheoleDominion1
TheoleDominion1

A519- "Sorry you're wrong about that, he's talking console not PC. Vehicle usage was on Halo first. Don't confuse PC breakthroughs with consoles. They are NOT the same thing.

canes010
canes010

Sepincourt, you know nothing of the magic of advertising.

Sepincourt
Sepincourt

I think the advertising is a little over the top, I mean it's Halo 3... How many people are going to see the Mountain Dew and think "Oh, I might buy that game" None.... Well nobody who already wasn't going to buy it. With big titles like this no amount of advertising will help, the game will sell well advertised or not. I guess the thing it will achieve is pick up a few "out of the know" people who don't follow gaming and didn't know of Halo 3's release or even parents buy for their children, however, it's hardly worth the $10million

TMontana1004
TMontana1004

yay free xbox live gold for two days!!!! glad i preordered!

BornK1ll
BornK1ll

And that's what i call "aggressive marketing" ;)

Zestytoaster
Zestytoaster

LinconSixEcho: One of the few who enjoy the story?? you're just hanging out with the wrong people i guess

smokeydabear076
smokeydabear076

I can't wait to laugh at the person I see driving that car down the street.

peeweeshift
peeweeshift

so many things happening that i have to bookmark this lol

LinconSixEcho
LinconSixEcho

I reserved my Legendary Edition of Halo 3 with Best Buy and this article makes me happy but I can't understand why Best Buy isn't having a midnight opening or something. Instead I have to wait till they open up at 8 or 9 in the morning. Yeah, I am a huge Halo fan and I enjoy the story (seems like I am one of the few) and I want to see where this will end. Two weeks seems like forever, but what is fantastic is that my girlfriend can't wait to play it online. I shouldn't have shown her the sniper rifle. She's a surgeon with that thing.

lamprey263
lamprey263

huh, two weeks away and I know absolutely nothing about a launch event in Seattle, but I will be lining up for the midnight release

PrivateJessard
PrivateJessard

I wish I reserved Halo 3 at Best Buy instead of Gamestop. :( I'm a huge fan of Halo so I must try all those Halo 3 food! I only had Game Fuel. :(

lordvulcan
lordvulcan

I'll be off my console for the duration of the 'halo' week as with all of them people clamering to play it something is bound to break. What will give up first Xbox live or the thousands of consoles playing halo 3 nonstop for five days. Time to go and get a bioshock when everyone trades them in to get halo for half price or some such other nonsense. Maybe me and my mates will get that Ut2004 LAN party going and play that to death some more.

generaltom
generaltom

I'm somehow doubtful I'll be able to find it anywhere to rent, and I honestly doubt I'm doing a whole lot by adding one copy to the first day sales. The reason I'm buying it is because I *do* have some interest in playing it, and I enjoyed the multi-player to a certain degree-I wouldn't mind having the game for that element several months after its release. I'm giving my low expectations based on everything I've seen so far. I'd be pleasantly surprised if the game actually did turn out really well. And to address the other user, saved features and four person online co-op does not change the fundamentals a game. Those are tacked on benefits that don't actually change the experience. So when you play with four people online, are the Covenant suddenly going to act considerably more intelligent? Will you have to do more than run and gun?

Beards_Mahoney
Beards_Mahoney

Command and Conquer: Renegade DID bring vehicles to FPS.....too bad it forgot to bring gameplay and fun. Halo did it best and there is no denying that.

A5H19
A5H19

Yuck_Too Give credit where it's due. Halo 1 brought vehicles to the FPS world and people went out of their way for LAN parties to play it, lugging around consoles and TV's...and it was fun. =================== Actually, it was Command and Conquer: Renegade that brought vehicles to FPSs. Not Halo.

lamprey263
lamprey263

it'll be interesting to see if this game starts selling more X360s, especially with the price cut of the consoles

FLEEBS
FLEEBS

"To find out whether the multimillion campaign was worth the effort, check back during Halo 3's launch week for GameSpot's full review of the game." I don't expect much of the review from Gamespot. But this game is going to rock.

SonicAssClap
SonicAssClap

i like halo and all...but i rlly dont think id like to drive down the street in a car with halo junk plastered all over it.

SkankForCrack
SkankForCrack

Damn, Toe Jam and Earl.. damn. Double Dragon.

X360MadMan
X360MadMan

Launch day! its going to be big!!

GuyinSocks
GuyinSocks

i think there actually was a Toe Jam & Earl sequel. Although you probably mean a current-gen one. And here's hoping next time Master Chief wont miss Fall Out Boy members...

mattcake
mattcake

@THEdjnme, you can buy Heavenly Sword for a mere £33 which is weirdly cheap, dunno where you got 55 from... and if you read my post properly I said it was nice to see some hype around the xbox again cos since the ps3 launch all eyes have been on that - bioshock is not xbox exclusive :)

F1sTDaCuffS
F1sTDaCuffS

its like there forcing us to watch another bruce wilis die hard movie. we got the money, so we can attitude. don't you think there trying to hard???

x_kenney_x
x_kenney_x

has anyone seen the inside of taht pontiac. it has two screens inside an xbox 360 and halo 3, plus nice intirior (futuristic) and sound system. man i want that car. and cant wait just 13 more days!!

SkankForCrack
SkankForCrack

Wait there was a Halo 2? When are they going to make a sequel to Toe Jam and Earl

BadBoy10605
BadBoy10605

To Gamespot: I liked the dig on Fall Out Boy! Awesome! Down with crappy pop music!

gun_blade25
gun_blade25

Pre-ordered 2 copies, one for me one for my brother. I can hardly wait.