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Bringing HALO to Life

By Yash Egami on Jul 14, 2015

The creators at Twofifteen McCann in San Francisco (previously known as T.A.G. and agencytwofifteen) brought the Halo franchise to life, literally. John Patroulis, now Creative Chairman at BBH New York, talked with us about taking a beloved franchise to the next step with a movie-style campaign.

What’s your favorite Halo spot you worked on? I’d probably have to say “Believe.” We were breaking so many rules of how you were supposed to market video games, and as a result ended up with something that resonated well beyond them—it felt exciting and risky and brave every step of the way, and we were lucky enough to have brave clients to support it.

The production felt like it went on forever because it took so long to create those plastic figurines, and to build the giant diorama. And filming them had more challenges than you might expect—including the fact that we were pretty much ducking out between takes to film the veterans testimonial films that became another big part of that campaign. But we were all—from agency to client to Rupert and his team—committed to making the diorama real, to bringing the fiction into the physical world, not just creating it in CG. I think you feel that human hand in the final film, and I think that’s what helped make it such an emotional piece.

“Reach” and “Believe" looked like real movies—did it feel like one when your team was working on it? We were always trying to honor the passion of the Halo fans, and to treat each release as the giant entertainment properties that they are. It seems obvious now, but no one had really done that before, and treating them as you would a Hollywood Blockbuster demanded we always do something as epic as the game itself.

Between “The Life”, “Birth of a Spartan”, “Remember Reach,” and “Deliver Hope,” me, Scott (Duchon) and everyone at our little agency pretty much got to know the whole of eastern Europe, and I think we blew up every abandoned coal mine and rusted-out factory on which the production companies there could get their hands.

It was all about authenticity, as we knew our audience lived the Halo franchise—played all the games, read all the books, knew everything about it—and we were always trying to create content that added to that Halo lore, became part of the larger narrative and rewarded folks for watching it by adding to the story they loved. That’s what drove us to making longer-form content. And as an added twist, we knew it had to be content that lived up to the epic nature of the games themselves.

So, in a way, it kind of did end up feeling like we were making movies, because most of them were long-form, or episodic, and all were created to expand the Halo narrative with each new piece.

Were people pissed because it blew everything else on the awards circuit completely out of the water? Ha! Um, no. People seemed to like it and were always pretty great to us about it. At least to our faces.

 

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