When this commercial for the most recent edition in the ‘Call of Duty’ game series was released in early November, I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cringe.
The genius of the 60 second advertisement, by Omnicom Group’s TBWA/Chiat/Day, is that it’s for a video game but does not feature any footage of the game itself. Instead, it shows real gamers, including basketball-player Kobe Bryant and talk-show host Jimmy Kimmel, re-enacting their favourite form of escapism.
The advertisement prompted criticism from commentators, such as the Atlantic’s Sam Machkovech, for the dramatisation of violence. And it is violent, packed with explosions and gunfire. Yet, no-one seems to get hurt.
Personally, I didn’t think much about it until today, when my 38 year-old sister asked me what video game I’d like for Christmas, so that we could annihilate each other safely from the comfort of the family sofa, while trying to drown out Neil Diamond’s 1992 Christmas Album.
It’s worth mentioning that I too am in my thirties. In other words, we ain’t kids no more and, therefore, fit into the target demographic of this game, which this ad cleverly articulates by showing who the product’s most profitable customers are now likely to be (i.e. not pimply teenagers, whose parents this advertisement is likely to offend).
Yes, I do realise that I will be criticised for running this clip. However, whatever your stance on video game violence, you must admit, this is one clever ad. Furthermore, I still haven’t worked out what’s more psychologically damaging — lobbying grenades at family members or listening to Diamond’s Jingle Bell Rock. (Although I do know for certain which is more cathartic.)