After two successful and critically acclaimed games, the Mass Effect franchise had built a significant following. As the last of the planned trilogy, the third game was a big deal for EA, and alongside extensive traditional marketing campaigns and glossy cinematic trailers, the team opted for an unusual campaign to boost awareness and engagement: To send copies of Mass Effect 3 into space (or at least, the upper atmosphere) on balloons.
These copies then returned to Earth (much like the protagonist of the franchise) and dedicated fans raced to find copies that had been released from major cities around the world, including London, Las Vegas and New York.
A few of the launches didn’t go smoothly, some copies were lost on private property, and problems with the online tracking platform led EA’s team to post information and coordinates on Twitter throughout the campaign. But technical hiccups aside, the campaign created positive PR buzz from a number of outlets and provided something interesting for the most dedicated fans to engage with. The results were rewarding for them too; several received copies of the game and other branded merchandise, before the game was officially released.
The campaign was cleverly inspired by one of the themes of the game franchise, which is space exploration. By taking the DNA of the game, one of the things fans love about it, and leveraging that during idea generation, the team was able to craft a unique campaign that resonated more strongly with the audience.