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A Look Back at Halo 3’s BELIEVE Ad Campign April 14, 2019

Posted by Maniac in Editorials.
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Its Sunday and I know we typically have a Gaming History You Should Know featured article for Sundays but given the recent Halo news and the impending start of Halo: Outpost Discovery, I felt it was time for me to write my own look at a piece of gaming history, Halo 3‘s BELIEVE campaign.

In the lead up to the release of Halo 3 on the Xbox 360, Microsoft’s considerable marketing division created a series of television advertisements and trailers for the game as part of the BELIEVE ad campaign. In 2007, Microsoft purchased several commercials taking place in the Museum of Humanity, a fictional set-piece filled with artifacts from the game and the greater Halo universe. The commercials appeared to be canon to Halo, taking place many years after the end of the Covenant War. A large diorama was also constructed depicting the Master Chief frozen in the middle of a Covenant battle.

While these videos were offered for download on the Xbox 360 Marketplace, some people have been nice enough to repost them on YouTube. Take a look below to watch.

This many years later I still get chills from watching these videos. I admit regret we neglected to mention any commercial from this campaign for our Top-Ten Video Game Commercials video, but at the time we felt Halo 3‘s “Starry Night” commercial was more groundbreaking due to the fact it kicked off the important Halo 3 Closed Beta signup period. In hindsight, these commercials may have endured the test of time better than “Starry Night” did. I have absolutely no idea if they casted real war veterans but the actors’ performances made it sure feel like they had. Their sincere performance made these brief commercials feel like part of the Halo universe, and watching them again this many years after first playing Halo 3 gives me intense flashbacks to that game. The production quality on these commercials are also incredible with on screen-props worthy of Hollywood’s films. While I can’t confirm it, I believe it is highly likely BELIEVE’s props were constructed by WETA Studios for the Neil Blomkamp Halo film. After that project was cancelled, the team behind it made the Halo 3: Landfall short film instead and the props from that short could have also been used in the BELIEVE commercials. WETA makes hands down the best props for Hollywood films, and you’ve seen their work in films like The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.

What is the enduring legacy of the BELIEVE campaign? Well, we are still talking about it over ten years after it originally aired so I would say it was very successful from an advertising perspective. Halo 3 also sold exceptionally well despite the fact it was an Xbox 360 exclusive game with people still playing it online to this day. Also, the upcoming Halo: Outpost Discovery event promises to feature its own real-life Museum of Humanity they’re calling the Hall of History, and while the event hasn’t started yet (so we can’t comment on what it will look like) its concept art looks heavily inspired by the BELIEVE campaign! That alone got us extremely excited to attend the Outpost Discovery event!

Halo 3 is (of course) out now for the Xbox 360. It is part of Halo: The Master Chief Collection, which is out now for the Xbox One and coming soon to PC, so there are currently many ways to play the game and many more ways that will be coming including Steam and Windows Store.

The last thing I would like to bring up for this article is my curiosity about what happened to the BELIEVE diorama. We know it was constructed as part of the ad campaign and existed as a real prop. I’ve heard the diorama did a tour of the US during Halo 3‘s release period and a website was set up so people could check it out in person. It is unknown what happened to the diorama after that tour. If it appears at the Halo: Outpost Discovery, you can be sure we will tell you about it because we plan to be in attendance!

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