The campaign imagines its two major characters, the alien giant General Atriox and heroically human Captain Cutter, engaged in a War of Wits…in relatable, real-life comedic situations, such as fighting over an airplane armrest and the price of a used car.
The ad shows the two using strategy to outsmart the other. The message is simple: The key to victory, as strategy gamers will appreciate: Know your enemy.
Scott Duchon, Chief Creative Officer of 215MCCANN tells DIVERGE more:
Where did the idea for this come from?
Like most things we create, it all started with our audience. Halo Wars 2 is a real-time strategy game with a lot of action packed into it. But we wanted to know what all that action meant to gamers. So we gathered 25 gamers into a wedding events venue and asked them. It turns out that action sets the stage for those moments when all hell breaks loose and you need an ingenious strategist to do the unexpected to win the day. And it was the ingenious strategist that gamers aspired to be. Which very directly led to a War of Wits. A battle between two ingenious strategists with very unconventional strategies.
Who is the team behind it?
Xbox, 343 Industries and 215MCCANN
Why is it significant?
This is the first time the Halo franchise has allowed a global marketing campaign to depict game characters outside of their game fiction. It’s also rare for the storied franchise to use comedy in marketing.
Why did you decide to address strategy in the ad?
With the War of Wits, we wanted to inspire gamer’s internal strategist and therefore inspire them to try out Halo Wars 2. To realize that this wasn’t just a simple strategy game, but a game that requires a punch, counter-punch, a counter to the counter punch. That each moment will be filled with unexpected, fun, twists.
Why was humor a key part of this?
We knew that our target audience indexed abnormally high on comedy content. But not just any comedy – they were attracted to sarcasm and wit. We embraced the absurd and were fortunate to have partners at Xbox and 343 who trusted us to deliver. This flavor of humor continued into our bespoke teaser videos for Snapchat and YouTube media.
Xbox and 343 Industries are often credited with inventing a style of game marketing with the Halo franchise that can best be compared to big blockbuster film launches. One part of this winning formula is to never let our audience get too comfortable. We like to keep gamers on their toes – always anticipating and talking about what’s new and coming next.
Do you plan to do any additional work around it?
Not unless we turn it into an episodic show (like some of our fans are asking for)!
Where/when will this air?
Aired globally February 9th and will receive paid digital and social media support for the next few weeks in the US, UK and Germany. Spots will also air in UK TV.
How important is diversity to your agency? To your client?
Xbox and its parent, Microsoft, actively seek to foster greater levels of diversity in our workforce and in our pipeline of future leaders. We are always looking for the best and brightest talent and pride ourselves on our individuality – inviting candidates to come as they are and do what they love. The common thread that attracts us to candidates is their passion for their work and the desire to make an impact in their careers, in the community, and on the world.
215MCCANN’s focus is on creating marketing solutions that grow our clients’ businesses. Clearly, understanding and truly connecting with consumers is key to achieving this objective. Through diversity of background and cultural experience, we achieve diversity of thought and ultimately great ideas and winning solutions. Simply stated, diverse inclusion in our workplaces and in our supplier relationships stimulates the creativity, innovation, collaboration and ultimately performance essential to our success. Diversity and inclusion are an ongoing, integrated part of our culture and our ambitions.