YORK, Pa. (AdAge.com) -- TBWA/Chiat/Day was charged this summer with creating a launch campaign to make the video game "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2" the biggest entertainment release of all time. But the campaign that backed the game launch on Tuesday was not from that agency. Instead, as "Modern Warfare 2" quickly summits the sales charts, a handful of other shops are stepping up to take their due credit.
The Ant Farm, Los Angeles, created the TV launch spots built around Activision's "Modern Warfare 2" game play in conjunction with developer Infinity Ward, which created the game and developed the pre-launch online buzz campaign. Mediaedge:cia handled all media buying. Martin Agency and production company Furlined created a Walmart co-op TV spot, paid for by Walmart and Activision, as well as online webisodes that are getting a lot of media weight and other buzz. Other retailer ads featuring "Modern Warfare 2" have either launched or are coming from GameSpot and Best Buy.
TBWA, for its part, remains the lead agency and "was integral to the launch strategy," said an Activision spokesman. But TBWA's creative will be the "second phase" of the campaign, he said. TBWA referred all calls to the client.
Several people close to the situation confirmed TBWA has presented some creative for the game and is continuing to work on it. One claimed the work may have been too mature in theme; however, another claimed the TBWA work is more than a launch campaign and will result in a bigger platform for the whole franchise.
The Activision spokesman wrote in response to an e-mail question about that creative, "The plan has always been to have Phase 1 run and then Phase 2 -- with Phase 1 being game play trailers created by Ant Farm."
TBWA has been in the eye of a video game storm before. In 2006, the agency created a much-discussed –- and widely panned -- set of fantastical ads for the launch of Sony's PlayStation 3 video-game console, which included the now infamous creepy crying baby doll. TBWA lost the PlayStation account in late 2007 after 13 years as the brand's agency.
However, specific ad credits aside, sales of "Modern Warfare 2" have indeed skyrocketed. Activision announced today that with North American and U.K. game tallies alone, the game broke one-day entertainment launch records with sales of $310 million, or about 4.7 million units, in just 24 hours.
"The 'Call of Duty' franchise has become a cultural phenomenon showing the power of video games as an entertainment medium," said Mike Griffith, CEO, Activision Publishing. "The shattering of these entertainment records is a testament to [that]."
Analysts and industry-watchers predict the game will easily sell 10 million copies by the end of the year, and eventually take a place among the best-selling video games of all time.