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Marketing: Halo 3 Television Commercials and the Long Tail

With Halo 3, the flagship title for Microsoft's Xbox 360 gaming console, finally released, I would like to consider its success. As my colleague's article about the marketing of the product illustrates, Microsoft invested a lot of time and money on various strategies, including partnerships with Burger King, Pontiac, and Mountain Dew for the latest game in the franchise. What shouldn't be overlooked are the Halo 3 television commercials.

I think they are very good. The commercials were created with an intriguing conceit—they are clips from a documentary made in the future earth of the Halo universe. An off-screen interviewer coaxes veterans of the war to talk about the battles they were in and their thoughts on Master Chief, the superhuman warrior the player controls in the game.

The commercials are effective for multiple reasons: It gives the viewer a sense of the epic scale of this game. It immerses the audience in the world of Halo. It gets them revved up to play the superhuman master chief. And lastly, as any great piece of marketing for a story-based product, it leaves you wanting to know more about what happens.

There are criticisms for these TV spots: they are probably too slow and ponderous for many. And the lack of actual gameplay footage could be considered strange, and perhaps fatal. But I think they were made to appeal to those who played Halo before or heard about the game from their friends — I have already been asked by others who haven't played the game if the story was good.

This is long tail marketing appealing to those who are already invested in the series. I would imagine in November, as the holiday shopping season begins, Microsoft would air commercials that would appeal to the mainstream and feature gameplay. In the mean time you can see two veterans reminisce over a great war.