Next Media Stars: M2 Universal’s Ryan Menezes gets gamers

M2's Menezes made the Next Media Star finalist list for his Halo Wars and Fable II gameplans.

With the help of top brass at media agencies across the country, strategy uncovered the brightest young media minds – the next-gen strategists and planners who are breaking new ground, taking campaigns to the next level and delivering results. The Next Media Star winner will be chosen by our Media Agency of the Year jury and announced in strategy‘s November issue. Today, we’re looking at M2 Universal’s Ryan Menezes.

Claim to fame

Unlike other real-time strategy (RTS) games that are created for a PC then later adapted for a gaming console, Halo Wars, the latest installment of the first-person shooter trilogy, was created explicitly for Xbox 360. In a campaign for the game launched in March, the objective, says Ryan Menezes, digital strategist at M2 Universal, was to appeal to console players and Halo fans, and also convince hardcore PC RTS gamers that Microsoft’s Halo Wars is a worthy buy.

‘Our strategy was to create mass awareness and excitement by leveraging the Halo reputation and also outlining Halo Wars‘ differentiating factor [as the] first-ever strategy game created exclusively for the Xbox 360 console,’ says Menezes.

In order to reach the 13- to 34-year-old male target, the campaign spanned community-oriented gamer sites with attention-grabbing ad units and advertorial content. A custom, over-the-page ad unit on Giant Realm, a New York-based network of websites that reaches hardcore gamers, generated more than 59,000 visits to the Xbox site, resulting in a CTR of 1.3%. About 400,000 gamers viewed the Halo Wars video, and 2,275 entered a contest for the game. As well, a custom catfish re-skin unit (which expands on the page from the bottom up and splits open) was placed on, chosen because of its community elements like blogs and forums that could influence buzz around the game.

‘Gaming is something that’s entirely dependent on community, and people talking about your brand and how good the game is,’ says Menezes.

Working on the Microsoft account has also given Menezes a chance to develop social media and user-generated content executions. Last year, he worked on role-playing game Fable II, which already boasted a television creative with a very finite message: that every choice has its consequence. The strategy was to assimilate this message with ad units that allow users to answer a poll that decides if they are destined to be good or evil, explains Menezes.

The poll, which was executed on UGO, VideoEgg, Gorilla Nation and Branchez-Vous networks, was considered a success, with about 153,000 people responding through and about 25,303 through Gorilla Nation’s networks alone.

Gamers could also determine whether their demonic or angelic side ruled on Facebook. Through an application developed by Vortex, users could take a short profiler quiz to determine their alignment between good and evil. The app also included a game that had users rally five friends as a team in order to win.

‘We made sure that the application was extremely detailed and strategic in order to appeal to our target’s behavioural insight – enjoying the thrill of solving mysteries,’ says Menezes. More than 24,580 users engaged with this application within the month of the campaign (Oct. 20 to Nov. 16, 2008), which led to incremental newsfeed stories and notifications.

About Menezes

Menezes, 22, was born and raised in Mumbai, India, and completed high school in Scarborough, Ontario. He attended Centennial College for advertising and, from the very first year, Menezes says he knew that media is where he wanted to be. Hired within two months of landing an internship at M2 Universal, where he’s been for about a year and five months, Menezes has seen the team grow from about half a dozen members to more than 20, and he says he loves the thrill of working in such a fast-paced environment.

‘With digital media, the challenge is to keep the same pace as our target audience we’re trying to reach and, whenever we can, be one step ahead.’

How do you understand/infiltrate the gaming community?

‘The gaming community is vibrant and energetic. They pride themselves in freely expressing opinions through forums and blogs. This makes it easy to comprehend what’s hot by regularly checking up on blogs (like and listening to gaming podcasts (like that talk about upcoming games, game reviews and initial community buzz.’