When Edelman was tasked with launching Xbox 360’s “Halo 4” in Europe, the firm needed to develop a campaign that reflected the magnitude of the blockbuster franchise and bring Halo to a whole new level – no easy feat for a game worth $3 billion that has sold over 45 million copies worldwide.
Edelman’s idea was simple: become the first brand ever to transform a country, totally reimagining it to create a real-life replica of the Halo universe in the heart of Europe.
The firm gave the Principality of Liechtenstein – a doubly landlocked country in Central Europe – an epic makeover, transforming the country’s most iconic landmarks, including a 13th century castle and a working mine, into a real-life version of the game. Edelman flew more than 70 media and super fans, who did not know where they were going or what they were doing, into Zurich for the top-secret event.
Once in Liechtenstein, the unsuspecting guests were plunged into the center of a mock war zone and taken on an immersive theatrical experience, where they traipsed through sludge, braved sub-zero temperatures in military wear, dug in a pitch-black mineshaft and dodged mines in the depths of a quarry. For two hours, civilians became soldiers, working to save mankind from an unknown attack.
Xbox and Edelman brokered a deal with the government of Liechtenstein to complete the transformation, which included overtaking a quarry, creating a military camp in the countryside and hiring 15 actors to take the guests on the adventure. World renowned game developers, 343 Industries, brought the fictional warzone to life with a trailblazing theatre company and cinematic quality special effects.
Through harnessing and unleashing the passion of Halo super fans, Edelman and Xbox created a groundswell of noise that made the launch bigger than a movie premiere. Although just 70 people participated in the event in Liechtenstein, millions more experienced it online.
“Halo 4 transforms Liechtenstein as marketing is taken to a new level,” wrote The Guardian, the world’s third most read online news site. Other notable coverage includes the top-read online news site, Mail Online.
The campaign exceeded all assigned metrics and helped make Halo 4 the best-selling Halo title ever released, surpassing all previous 60-day sales records. In its first 24 hours of launch, Halo 4 made more than $220 million worldwide, eclipsing box office records held by “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2” and “The Avengers.”
The event secured more than 250 stories, with coverage in 20 markets; reached more than 14 million people via Twitter; attracted more than 13,000 “likes” on Facebook and gained 500,000 YouTube views and more than 80,000 views on Xbox Live.
The groundbreaking campaign has picked up a raft of awards to date including two Cannes Lions, a Global SABRE Award and two EMEA SABRE Awards.