Cannes Lions

HALO 4 GLYPH

AKQA, New York / MICROSOFT / 2013

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Overview

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Overview

Description

While Halo had previously been one of most successful games in Xbox history, franchise fatigue had set in with loyal gamers. Therefore, we knew we couldn't just focus on the gaming community; we had to create a splash in pop culture, creating an event that the entire world would talk about.

We would bring the game’s enemy to life here on Earth.

We did this by creating a one-of-a-kind aerial light show featuring a massive Glyph representing this enemy’s signature as it took over London’s skies. Flying seemingly unassisted for 9km down the River Thames, the Glyph was thought to be a UFO, creating a sense of shock and awe in the people on the ground.

Thousands of status updates, YouTube videos, and Instagrams documented the event and spread the word while news media such as the BBC, the Sun, the Daily Mail, and Wired published features in the following days. The buzz surrounding the flight pushed the launch of Halo 4 into a major news item, helping sales reach over $220 million in global sales in the first 24 hours and turning it into the biggest first-party title launch in Xbox history.

Execution

In the weeks leading up to the Awakening event, cryptic clues began to appear across the web featuring the Didact’s Glyph. Each piece of content served as a piece of the puzzle leading to the date, time and location of the event. Owned channels and communications were corrupted and “glitched” with increasing intensity as the ominous date grew nearer.

On Nov. 5th, a massive Glyph representing the villain’s signature appeared above London’s River Thames. The massive symbol hovered hundreds of feet above the ground as it headed towards the iconic Tower Bridge, commanding the attention of the public and the press as they thought they were witnessing a genuine UFO.

Outcome

Thousands of status updates, YouTube videos, and Instagrams appeared from people on the ground as they witnessed the glyph traveling across London. As word spread, the entire Twitter reach totaled 32.3 million. Features in television, print, and online media including the BBC, the Sun, the Daily Mail, and Wired appeared in the following days. All the buzz surrounding the flight pushed the launch of Halo 4 into a major news item, helping sales of the game reach over $220 million in global sales in the first 24 hours and turning it into the biggest first-party title launch in Xbox history.

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