For Square/Enix's Hitman, a video game where players must assassinate given targets without getting caught, Omelet LA spent the first half of the year building a campaign that kills (literally! ... well, digitally, anyway). And it used that campaign to build actual gaming content.
In March, for the game's release, Hitman built pre-rolls that let you murder the ad. The spot, titled "The Wolfshark," featured the aforementioned ("TV's King of Corruption!") and featured a "Kill this ad in..." button where "Skip ad" normally is.
When clicked, The Wolfshark gets murdered, followed by the hashtag #HitHappens.
That same month, it created ChooseYourHit.com, an interactive campaign that takes the hitman premise for an unexpected dip in our world: Fans had to choose whether their next in-game target would be Gary Busey or Gary Cole, who played the horrible boss in Office Space.
Busey and Cole were cool enough to create content explaining why they personally deserve to die, which has psychological implications we don't want to think about right now. The trailer is below, and it's just as weird as you'd want it to be: "I think plagues are hysterical," Cole says at one point, while Busey retorts, "I stole a baby from a candy store!"
Hitman is an episodic game where users have a series of "episodes" to play, each representing a different location and target. (Three exist so far; three more are yet to come.) But there's also a live component, called Elusive Targets. This limited-edition content consists of custom-created characters that appear for a short while, and you only get one shot at taking them down.
Seven Elusive Targets have been released so far, including the subject of this campaign. And to win their rightful place in gaming's horizons, the pair even helped make individual spots.
Why kill Busey? Because he's a master of combat:
Cole promises not to give you a Marion Cotillard kinda death:
"Initially, we were nervous that veterans of their caliber might be put off by the premise of competing to be assassinated, but we were dead wrong," says Omelet senior copywriter Jimmy Barker. "They both loved it and were fully on board, adding a ton of energy and ad-libs that really made this fun the whole way through."
There are also political-style ads in which Busey and Cole basically debunk each other's claims about who's more villainous—which, in today's political climate, don't feel as much like parody as it should:
"The game is all about options and choice, so we wanted to bring that into the campaign by letting fans choose which Gary to kill," explains Omelet creative director Clemente Bornacelli. "We love working with Square Enix, and the opportunity to use advertising as a way for fans to change the video game was unique and exciting."
The winner was revealed in mid-April. Those impregnated with enough Gary Busey advertising to last a lifetime shouldn't be surprised by the result:
Afterward, Omelet worked with Square Enix and IO Interactive to write a script in which Busey and Cole were incorporated into the game to bring the mission to life. According to The Drum, both actors have voiced in-game characters previously, but never actually appeared in a game, which means putting on facial capture devices and acting out scenes.
The resulting downloadable content for Elusive Target #7 (aka, "The Wild Card") has a super meta premise: Busey's in Sapienza for an ad shoot, but he's flaking—so the client's decided to "terminate their relationship ... permanently." Confusingly, Cole is also hanging around (as an "angered co-star" who "may lead you straight to your target").
Below, the RadBrad—who also happens to be a really engaging narrator—takes The Wild Card down ... and Busey, even as an animated character, is flippin' hilarious:
Last month Omelet released a powerful documentary about former gangsters turned interventionists, and in January it was responsible for Pokémon's Super Bowl ad, the first to appear online in advance of the Super Bowl brouhaha. Keep killing it, guys (again, not literally).