The Halo Effect

Microsoft reported “Halo 3” reached $300 million in sales in its first seven days at retail. The attention spread to the Web with a 150 percent increase in searches for the term “halo 3” in the four weeks ending September 29, 2007, according to Hitwise. People primarily searched for the game’s skulls, release date (September 25), cheats, weapons, and reviews.

At Advertising Week held in New York last week I met with Microsoft and Massive executives, and attended a handful of panels on in-game advertising. The coveted title is and always will be off limits to in-game advertising, but there are ways to align your brand with “Halo” and other out-of-boundaries games. There is “around game advertising” which is largely sponsorships of tournaments both online and offline, inserts in boxes, co-branding promotions, and advertising on enthusiast Web sites. Discovery Channel entered a strong co-branding opportunity with Halo’s Master Chief to promote its “Last One Standing” show where Master Chief played as a contestant, and headlined a sweepstakes. For Microsoft, Massive primarily handles in-game ad placements, but the Xbox team has some innovative solutions around the game including placement on the heavily-trafficked Xbox Live.

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