Edelman and Microsoft: The Launch of Halo 3
There once was a time when video games were treated like afterthoughts in the entertainment industry; not as glamorous as movies nor as pervasive as music. Although the 2004 launch of "Halo 2" broke franchise records, it did not push video games into the mainstream.
When Microsoft was preparing the launch of Halo 3, the stakes were even higher. Sales of its Xbox console 360 had stagnated and its future success hinged on Halo 3. Yet for the new launch to surpass the success of its predecessor, Microsoft and Edelman needed a PR strategy that would make Halo 3 a first-tier choice that could compete directly with conventional entertainment.
To make it happen, the PR team engaged in a series of both innovative and tried tactics that culminated in a "traditional block-and-tackle" strategy that shattered entertainment sales records for Halo 3's 2007 launch.
"The Halo 3 campaign was highly effective at driving both awareness and bottom-line revenues," noted one judge.
Despite Halo 2's success, within two years of its debut, Sony and Nintendo had each launched their own next-generation console, contributing to the Xbox's static sales. To revive the console, Halo 3 had to become a pop-culture phenomenon.
Even so, the strategy first targeted hardcore Halo fans to ensure the game retained the loyalty of its base. Then the PR strategy widened to encompass PlayStation owners, Xbox owners, and generally males from 17 to 35 with an interest in gaming.
The PR team positioned Halo as not just a game, but rather as an overarching global franchise. The plan was ultimately executed with a global campaign that identified the most effective outlets for signature stories. The PR team also teased audiences with a public multi-player beta that helped build hysteria for the actual launch. As masters in buzz, the PR team carefully crafted a media strategy to build more excitement. Tactics included milestone announcements to ensure continued media exposure, vertical media coverage that celebrated Microsoft for launching a blockbuster, and a midnight release to create a late-night frenzy.
Hype can quickly turn from friend to foe, but in this case, the perfectly executed media strategy worked. Halo 3 set a new record for the biggest one-day launch in US history, the coverage positioned the release as an historic moment for the entertainment industry, and the PR team noted more than 6,500 media placements in the US during launch week.
This marked one of the rare moments when a launch was able to exceed the expectations of its manufactured hype.
"Incredible results," all judges agreed.
Tesla Motors: Tesla Motors brand launch campaign
Even amid the nation's green craze, converting Americans to an all-electric car is an ambitious endeavor. But Tesla Motors took on this PR challenge with an innovative campaign that still respected traditional PR. The company's debut vehicle, the Roadster, asked consumers to take an expensive leap of faith and pay a lofty $100,000 for a largely untested technology. Because only a fraction of the population could contemplate such a purchase, the company ensured its message would sit comfortably with conservatives and liberals alike. The savvy PR strategy carefully included outreach to traditional and new media, earning the company splashy coverage in both media categories. The brand's glitzy launch and new-media promotional tools, such as its Web site and company blog, helped the news story become a favorite among both traditional journalists and bloggers. "Great campaign," said one judge. "Solid use of media relations in an industry that often is not friendly to newcomers." The successful PR campaign resulted in Tesla selling out of its production for 2008 and turned the startup into a market leader for alternative fuels. "Rare for a startup automobile company to achieve this level of success," noted another judge.
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