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Michael Phelps and Danny McBride Go to Outer Space for Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare

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With global temperatures rising and the most obscene U.S. presidential election in recent memory taking place, 2016 might feel like the worst year ever. But whether you're an average joe on the street or celebrity swimmer Michael Phelps, Call of Duty's new game, Infinite Warfare, is ready to help you escape.

The new live-action trailer for the Activision title opens on a young man beset by dire news reports. Beside himself, he does the only reasonably thing. He hops in a spaceship and takes off from Earth altogether.

"2016 has been a year full of shock and head shaking," says Matthew Curry, group creative director at 72andSunny, which created the ad. "As we got further into the year, the idea that you could leave the insanity behind to go have some badass fun felt like rich territory. So we came up with the ultimate solution to a world gone mad: Screw it! Let's go to space."

Cue blastoff to a high-octane interplanetary gunfight, wherein the ad fulfills its obligation as a CoD trailer to deliver a explosion-packed, celebrity-studded fantasy blending live action and computer graphics, ultimately featuring surprise banter between Phelps and comedian Danny McBride.



As usual, a driving, guitar-driven soundtrack—in this case, "Welcome to the Jungle" by Guns N' Roses—is key. (Past CoD ads have featured "Gimme Shelter" and "Paint It Black" by the Rolling Stones. Led Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song," meanwhile, featured in a 72andSunny ad for another Activision title, Destiny).

"Classic rock has a timeless cool to it," says Curry. It fits perfectly with the badass fun and swagger of the Call of Duty brand. For this particular spot … we considered everything from end-of-the-world songs to songs about escape. In the end, 'Welcome to the Jungle' had the perfect tone and message to tee up the badass fun of battling through the chaos of space."

As for casting, diversity was the driving factor, based on emphasizing the CoD franchise's broader sales pitch—"There's a soldier in all of us." But there was some strategy in the cameos, as well. "We instantly loved the idea of taking Michael Phelps, the winningest human on Earth, and putting him in space to see how he fared," says Curry. "Danny McBride was the perfect person to steal his kill, and his thunder."

The trailer, launching today, is the culmination of a massive push to promote latest title in a hugely success franchise. Infinite Warfare, launching Nov. 4, is the first to be set in space. "The campaign for Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare consisted of literally over 100 marketing elements, all highlighting what is unique and different about this title," says Todd Harvey, svp of global consumer marketing at Activision.

"With 'Screw It, Let's Go to Space,' we've focused on creating a broad message that taps into the pop culture happening around us, while transporting players into the new game world of Infinite Warfare. The launch of Call of Duty is a pop-culture moment, and in that sense, the news of the day serves as a great starting point to play on that sense of escapism to enjoy the next epic entertainment launch of the year."

Past elements in the campaign have included the ambitious "Hostile Takeover" in-game activation in the prior Black Ops 3 title. Social activations launching later this week will include #EarthWorldProblems—a Twitter response campaign from Edelman playing on the popular #FirstWorldProblems trope, and "Terminal Tours" from AKQA—a Facebook Messenger walkthrough of the dangers of playing CoD in space.

As for whether 72andSunny had a specific candidate in mind, as the one moderating punches in the face during a particularly egregious debate, Curry maintains it was "no one in particular. We wanted a line that spoke to the insanity of the election season, so we really gunned at an unbelievable moment. Problem is, things have been so crazy that no matter how hyperbolic we went, you could argue it was still believable."

In other words, strap in.

CREDITS
Activision, Call of Duty Team:
Chief Executive Officer, Activision Publishing: Eric Hirshberg
EVP, Chief Marketing Officer: Tim Ellis
SVP, Global Consumer Marketing: Todd Harvey
SVP, Consumer Engagement, Digital Marketing & PR: Monte Lutz
Senior Director, Consumer Marketing: Carolyn Wang
Senior Manager, Consumer Marketing: David Cushman
Associate Manager, Consumer Marketing: Jared Castle
Coordinator, Consumer Marketing: Lynn Ballew
Senior Director, Digital Marketing: Justin Manfredi
Senior Manager, Digital Marketing: Rich Elmore
Senior Manager, Digital Marketing: Mario Sgambelluri
Digital Marketing Associate Manager: Peter Bowman
VP, Global Media: Caroline McNeil
Senior Director, Global Media: Simone Deocares-Lengyel

72andSunny Team
Chief Executive Officer: John Boiler
Chief Creative Officer: Glenn Cole
Chief Strategy Officer: Matt Jarvis
Director of Strategy: Bryan Smith
Chief Production Officer: Tom Dunlap
Group Creative Director: Matthew Curry
Creative Director: Robert Teague
Creative Director: Tim Wolfe
Sr. Designer: Jon Hall
Writer: Matt Meszaros
Designer: Lauren Albee
Group Production Director: Angelo Mazzamuto
Sr. Film Producer: Dave Stephenson
Jr. Film Producer: Skyler Courter
Group Brand Director: Rhea Curry
Brand Director: Simon Hall
Sr. Brand Manager: Brett Schneider
Brand Manager: Will Nader
Strategy Director: Daniel Teng
Strategist: Jake Watt
Partnerships and Legal Director: Kallie Halbach
Partnerships and Legal Manager: Jesse Sinkiewicz
Partnerships and Legal Coordinator: Molly Hogan

Production Company: Pony Show Entertainment
Director: Peter Berg
Director of Photography: John Schwartzman, A.S.C
Production Designer: Jeff Mann
Partner: Susan Kirson
Executive Producer: Helga Gruber
Head of Production: Gareth Wood

Editorial: Work Editorial
Editor: Jono Griffith
Assistant Editor: Keith Hamm
Executive Producer: Marlo Baird
Producer: Lynne Mannino

Visual Effects: MPC
Creative Director: Paul O' Shea
VFX Supervisor: Michael Gregory
CG Supervisor: David White
Colorist: Ricky Gausis
VFX Producer: Matt Olmon
Line Producer: Ekta Gupta
VFX Coordinator: Sarah Laborde
2D Lead: Nikkesh K
2D Supervisor: David Rouxel
3D Lead: Jacob Oommen

Visual Effects: Pixomondo
VFX Supervisor: Timothy Hanson
Executive Producer: Mandie Briney
VFX Producer: John Baer
Bidding Producer: Patrick Neighly
DFX Supervisor: Patrick Schuler
Compositing  Supervisor: Spencer Hecox
Previz Supervisor: Matt McClurg
Paint/Roto Supervisor: Lance Ranzer
Rigger/Maya Technical Director: York Schueller
Senior Production Coordinator: Enoch Davis
Production Coordinator: Antonia Oelmann

Costumes: Legacy Effects LLC
Effects Supervisor: J. Alan Scott
Production Coordinator: Damon Weathers

Sound Design: Formosa Group
Supervising Sound Editors:   Per Hallberg, M.P.S.E.
Sound Designer: Ann Scibelli, M.P.S.E. , Jon Title, M.P.S.E. , D. Chris Smith, M.P.S.E.
1st Assistant Sound Editor: Philip D. Morrill

Recording Studio / Mix: Lime
Mixers: Rohan Young / Jeff Malen
Assistant: Ben Tomastik / Lisa Mermelstein
Executive Producer: Susie Boyajan

OMD Team
Group Account Director: Natalie Holbrook
Associate Media Director: Carly Haw
Media Supervisor: Amir Ghareaghadje
Senior Media Strategist: Justin Levenstein
Media Strategist: Natalie Garretson
Assistant Media Strategist: Deveny Rohrer

PMK•BNC
SVP, Brand Marketing and Communications – Michele Wyman
Senior Director, Brand Marketing and Communications – Mark Van Lommel
Senior Director, Talent Relations – Jonathan Kichaven
Senior Account Executive, Talent Relations – Ashley Studer
Program Manager – Chong Kim
Account Executive, Brand Marketing and Communications – Renee Felton

Edelman
Jordan Atlas – Executive Creative Director
Zach Tindall – Group Director, Activision
Sam Kennedy – VP Strategy, Activision
Chris Swanson – Associate Creative Director
Lauren Curtis – Senior Account Supervisor, Activision
Ben Lewis – Senior Strategist, Call of Duty
Katie Stemler – Project Manager, Activision
Gabe Duran – Copywriter
Ronnie Lee – Copywriter
Matt Kugler – Copywriter
Michele Pappas – Art Director
Alex Sutton-Hough – Designer
Ji Choi – Designer
Justin Fitzwater – Senior Community Manager
Kurt Wendler – Community Manager
Jason Suh – Community Manager
Michael Fein – VP, Insights & Analytics
Jocelyn Swift – Manager, Insights & Analytics
Tyler Phillippi – Analyst
Carol Chu – Analyst
Megan Cooper – Junior Analyst

AKQA
Creatives:
Nick Strada – Group Creative Director
EB Davis – Creative Director
Nils Westgardh – Art Director
Oscar Wickman – Art Director/ Photographer
Tandeka Lauriciano – Associate Copywriter
Cliff Li, Hovin Wang, Charles Calixto, Enoch Tengler, Randy Santos – Sr. Designer

Account:
Kristin Goto – Client Partner
Erin Morgan – Account Director

Production:
Cody Lucas – Program Manager/ EP
David Shuff – Director  of Film and Motion
Ryan Jones – Motion Designer
Jim MacMurray – Sr. Production Artist

MediaMonks Films:
Director – Rogier Schalken
Asst. Dir. – Mel Anderson
Dir. of Photography – Dallas Sterling
Executive Producer – Lauren Becker
Line Production – Theresa Marth, Mark Aran
Post Supervisor – Wesley Kolsteeg
Post Producers – Marlose de Rijke,  Gerben Molenaar

PullString:
Head Writer: Scott Ganz
Writer: Eva Steele-Saccio, Jessica Kitchens, Nicholas Pelczar
Operations Manager & Producer: Jennifer Dobbs
Head of Enterprise: Mike Houlahan

Infrastructure Engineering Lead: James Chalfant


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