Jump into any Toys R Us, convenience store or local GameStop, and you’ll be inundated with merchandise tied into Halo Reach, Bungie’s last stab at the Halo franchise. Almost like George Lucas with his Star Wars prequels, Microsoft is pimping Halo Reach like there’s no tomorrow. But at least one tie-in we recently got our hands on actually makes some sense: the Honor the Code promotion with Doritos and Mountain Dew.
This marketing tie-in makes sense on a few levels. First, it involves Mountain Dew, which seems like the soda of choice for most gamers, and Doritos, which has a virtual stranglehold on the chip-consuming young-adult public.Second, its code-based promotion aligns well with the community integration Bungie has spent so much time building alongside its Halo games (you must register your contact info, your Gamertag and create an avatar prior to redeeming a code). And third, portions of the promotion are extremely exclusive (the box we received was limited to only 300 units), and gamers always like limited-edition goodies. (FYI, we’re giving away TEN of them here!)
At first glance, the Honor the Code box seems like it contains a sculpture or something akin to what’s contained in the Halo: Reach Legendary Edition due simply to its size and weight. However, upon opening the box, it’s obvious that the weight comes from nothing more than its inclusion of six bottles of Mountain Dew.
Every variety of Mountain Dew is contained in the Honor the Code box, with each flavor showing a different Noble Team Spartan from Halo Reach (see photos of each one below). The specially labeled bottle of Code Red, for instance, shows Emile just to the left of the Mountain Dew logo. The bottle of Voltage Mountain Dew has a picture of Kat. The normal flavor shows Carter, Diet Mountain Dew shows Jun, and the orange bottle of LiveWire portrays Jorge. The only notable omission is Noble Six, the only playable Spartan from Halo Reach. Or is it?
Behind the cardboard section marked “Top Secret” is a super limited-edition bottle of a new Mountain Dew flavor called “White Out.” The flavor, which should be available soon if it’s not already, will never be available in stores with this Noble Six wrap. The flavor itself will be available, but the only way to get the Noble Six graphics is to have one of these boxes or win it some other way (like in our free enter-to-win contest for TEN of these boxes).
White Out is certainly a new flavor for Mountain Dew, but it’s not necessarily new to the soda pantheon. Upon opening the bottle, your nose is filled almost immediately with the scent of Squirt, with its heavy citrus aroma and a hint of lime. The flavor follows suit as well, almost as if someone forgot to put the Yellow 5 food coloring in Squirt before bottling it in this Halo Reach-branded container. The difference, though, comes in the aftertaste — and not in a good way. Both I and my wife thought that while White Out tasted good at first blush, it had an almost medicinal aftertaste. Neither of us could put our fingers on what exactly it tasted like, but “medicine” was the first thing that came to mind. The solution? Don’t stop drinking, and you won’t get the aftertaste.
Inside the top lid of the Honor the Code box is a small envelop containing a variety of thick glossy cards. The top card is essentially a “welcome to the goodie bag” type of card that describes just how special this box of consumable items truly is. A shame, really, because who wants to eat or drink these limited-edition foodstuffs? We did…but only for the sake of this article. Now, tell me who loves you?
The text on that top card reads as follows: “Congratulations! You have been selected to receive a limited edition ‘Halo: Reach’ Honor the Code kit courtesy of Mountain Dew and Doritos. The kit – one of just 300 produced – celebrates the release of the new video game for Xbox 360. Inside are the five different DEW flavors representing characters from ‘Halo: Reach.’ But there’s more. We’ve also included the newest member of our Mountain Dew family: Mountain Dew White Out. You won’t find this edition of White Out in stores. It’s not for sale and you can’t buy it. We’re giving it only to true Mountain Dew fans.
The kit also includes two special bags of Doritos featuring characters from ‘Halo: Reach.’ For your chance to win cool ‘Halo: Reach’ prizes, twist off the caps, look on the back of the bags and enter the codes at www.honorthecode.com. So grab a cold DEW and a bag of Doritos and jump helmet first into one of the biggest gaming phenomena of the 21st century.”
Almost like an old 3.5″ GI Joe toy, the Honor the Code box also includes bio cards for each member of Noble Team. On the front of each card is a photo of the respective Spartan (Jorge, Emile, Kat, Carter, Jun and Noble Six), along with the “Honor the Code” logo and the requisite Halo Reach, Doritos and Mtn. Dew insignias. The back of each card is where the juicy details come out about each character, with data ranging from each Spartan’s service number and hometown to their unit type and birthday. Nothing here really adds to the game or drinking/eating experience, but it all goes that extra step to bring a sense of identity and backstory to each character, which Bungie has tried to build since Halo first launched on the Xbox.
Obviously this entire packet is designed to promote the Honor the Code promo that the chip and soda companies are running with Microsoft, with the only irony being that people won’t want to open the Limited-Edition bottles to get the codes. Fortunately — and again, we took this one for the team — the White Out bottle does not have a code in its cap, so if you are fortunate enough to win a Noble Six-branded bottle of White Out, do not bother opening it. Save it for posterity’s sake or a rainy day instead.
Entering a code is easy enough, but requiring the mass amount of data up front is a bit intrusive. I’m sure it’s merely a function of needing to contact winners, but it would have been less off-putting to ask for that info only from the winners once they were chosen rather than ask for it from everyone under the sun. The flip side, of course, is that since the prizes change every 15 minutes and you can assign as many codes as you want to any given drawing, your chances of winning will increase exponentially based on the number of codes you have at your disposal and the number of people who decide to skip the promotion altogether due to the registration process.
Even if you don’t participate in the promo, it’s nice to see a marketing tie-in implemented that’s complimentary to the developer’s work to build a community and introduce a new member of the team. And hey, to be the lucky recipients of a box limited to 300 units is pretty sweet, so thanks to the Mountain Dew and Doritos team for plugging us in.
Now, as promised above, here are photos of the other five Noble Team members on their respective bottles of Mountain Dew, plus the two Halo-branded bags of Doritos.
– Jonas Allen