In a custom campaign for the rebooted Guitar Hero videogame, Activision and The CW are featuring stars from two of the network’s most-watched shows, Arrow and The Flash.
Actors David Ramsey of Arrow and Candice Patton of The Flash will compete with each other in an actual Guitar Hero Live competition in special commercials. The spots will air on the network beginning on Wednesday night during Arrow. A commercial that will air on Tuesday night, Oct. 20, during The Flash, will reveal the winner. Guitar Hero Live launches on the 20th.
Activision ran a similar promotion effort in conjunction with The CW, and including two of its show stars, in 2006 for an earlier version of Guitar Hero. Those spots had Jared Padalecki of Supernatural and Justin Hartley of Smallville competing with each other playing the game.
Ian Trombetta, VP of consumer marketing for Activision, says The CW was selected for this content integration promotion because it targets teens and younger millennials, and offers both male and females in those demo areas.
“Unlike most video games, we believe Guitar Hero Live will resonate with both males and females,” Trombetta told B&C, “and The CW reaches the younger portion of the demo we are trying to reach.”
A similar general audience campaign, featuring rock star Lenny Kravitz and actor James Franco, will be running across other networks and platforms. However The CW campaign is exclusive to that network. It will be the only content integration campaign tied to a specific network that Activision will do surrounding the launch.
The creative for the general audience and CW campaigns was developed by Activision’s creative agency 72andSunny, and the media buys across platforms, including The CW deal, was handled by its media agency OMD.
Ramsey, who plays best friend and confidant of Arrow lead character Oliver Queen, and Patton, who stars as journalist Iris West in The Flash, were each given VIP beta access to the game this summer so they could test it out and offer input to Activision.
Guitar Hero Live will introduce several new upgraded features to the earlier versions of the game that will require players to basically re-learn how to play. The new edition will include a first-person point of view where each player is up on stage as the star of the show, in a live-action experience with real bandmates and crowds who dynamically react in real-time to how well or poorly each competitor is playing.
The deal came together sometime after this year’s upfront in May and the spots, as well as other types of assorted content that will be part of the campaign, including a behind-the-scenes video of the making of the commercials for the CW, were filmed in August.
The first 60-second spot will feature Patton playing Guitar Hero Live with some friends when Ramsey shows up and that leads to a challenge to compete against one another. The second 60-second spot will show some of the competition between them and reveal the winner.
During the two weeks between the first commercial that will air during Arrow on Oct. 7 and the second commercial on Oct. 20, which will run during The Flash, The CW will air assorted 15-second vignettes across its shows that will include footage of the two stars preparing for the competition. For CW fans of the two shows, there will be lots of inside dialogue back-and-forth between the two, says Barbra Robin, senior VP, integrated marketing at the network.
Robin says other custom content will also run across the CW digital platforms and on social networks like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Activision will also run commercials from its general campaign promoting the launch across CW shows.
Robin says the CW talent spent a full day in August shooting footage for the campaign. “We shot lots of extra footage that will be edited down for the shorter vignettes and to push out via social media, but we are also going to release a longform, behind-the-scenes video online,” Robin adds.
Once posted online, all the 60-second spots, the 15-second vignettes and the longform video will be available on The CW and Activision digital sites through the end of the year.
The campaign for Activision is a chance to reach a specific targeted audience. Robin says for The CW it was a chance to portray a pair of their characters in a different light, outside of their more dramatic show roles. She says Ramsey and Patton have worked together before and have a good chemistry in this new campaign.
Activision’s Trombetta says the company is “excited about the creative” in the spots and “excited about the campaign overall.”
While The CW audience has aged up a bit since the last Activision integrated Guitar Hero campaign in 2006, Robin says it still delivers a large chunk of audience the game-maker is looking to reach and motivate to buy.
“We’re not as young as we were back then, but we still offer a younger audience than the other broadcast networks,” she says.