LOS ANGELES The T.A.G. creative team behind the Clio Awards-dominating campaign for Microsoft Xbox's Halo 3 was prepared for skeptical reactions to the spots' solemn accolades for animated in-game soldiers, especially as support for flesh-and-blood warriors fighting in Iraq began to wane.
All that changed when agency cd Scott Duchon started hearing from American soldiers posted abroad who praised the TV and online effort (which features fictitious "veterans" telling elaborate battle tales) as "emotionally real" and genuinely moving."It's the best work we've done," says cd Geoff Edwards, who crafted the ads with Duchon.
"We did everything but get [Halo war hero] Master Chief his own Time
magazine cover and national holiday."
That's high praise from an oft-awarded industry star who picked up four Cannes Lions in 2005 alone for Adidas work he oversaw while at TBWA\Chiat\Day in San Francisco.
At the Clios, Halo 3 won eight statues and Microsoft Xbox was crowned Advertiser of the Year.
T.A.G. was launched a year ago, spun out of McCann Erickson's San Francisco office as a way of keeping key Microsoft creatives Duchon and Edwards -- not to mention the client -- happy and micro-focused on the all-important Xbox and Zune assignments.
Even though T.A.G. has since grown to 22 and now commands its own space (it originally occupied a sparely populated but raucous corner of McCann), Duchon and Edwards are fiercely protective of preserving the culture they've carved out for their own enjoyment and productivity.
"We don't want to be one of those agencies that tries to do too much too quick," says Edwards. "We're saying let's keep things at home and do killer work on Xbox and Zune, as well as Microsoft's brand and global business."
"I don't know a lot of other agency cultures," says Duchon, who moved through Crispin Porter + Bogusky in Miami, JWT in New York and TBWA\C\D, San Francisco. "But T.A.G. is all based on being open to a lot of people and having strategy and creative as the driving forces. There's so much work to go around, there's no animosity or grabbing on to things. A lot of people have contributed to the work."
For Halo 3, Edwards credits a small core team at T.A.G. and MJZ -- especially senior planner Mike Harris, who he called "another creative" on the lauded campaign.
"We all have interests beyond traditional marketing," adds Duchon. "And we want people [at T.A.G.] to be able to exercise a different creative muscle, a different side of the brain."
They'll get that chance as work on Microsoft progresses, and they begin branching out on projects for other clients. Such an effort is already under way for an undisclosed video player.
"We like being nimble, quick, and super-personal here," says Edwards. "It's one of those amazing times where I look around and like everyone here. That translates into an amazing culture."
Adweek and the Clio Awards are units of the Nielsen Co.
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