McCann Israel is using Call of Duty World War II to teach Gen Z about the Holocaust

‘Fighting to Remember’ brings survivors and gamers together as awareness of the Holocaust has dwindled among the younger generation

Published On
Apr 24, 2023
Image from Call of Duty overlaid with a real World War II photograph

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War is no game. But McCann Israel is merging the two in the hopes that more Israeli teens will learn about the Holocaust—as anti-Semitism surges around the world and the World War II generation who witnessed the atrocities dwindles.

On April 17, Israel’s National Holocaust Memorial Day, the country’s top gamers streamed themselves on YouTube playing Call of Duty World War II. They were joined by Holocaust survivors who experienced what really happened in those game maps.

 

While connecting the Holocaust to fictional works like Call of Duty clearly carries its own risks, the agency’s goal is actually to reverse the desensitization that gaming can cause—by reminding gamers that for Jews, these moments were not a game, but were tragedies that shaped their lives and the path of world history.

The campaign comes from Zikaraon Basalon, an organization dedicated to keeping survivor stories alive. It comes in the wake of research that found 76% of Israeli teens have never met a Holocaust survivor—and 48% of Jews age 18-29 were unaware of the massacre at Babi Yar, one of the most horrific mass-murder events of the Holocaust. Meanwhile, 69% of Israel youth are gamers, on average playing 21 hours a week.

The campaign participants include Danny Ly Ziser, host of IGN Israel; gaming influencer Inde Game, known as the “Israeli MrBeast”; and pop star Static, also a popular gamer who has collaborated on songs with the Black-Eyed Peas and Pitbull. The survivors include Moshe Kessler, one of the protagonists from the book “The Boy from Block 66”; Avraham Roet, a peer of Anne Frank; Shimon Greenhouse, who was imprisoned with his family in the Krasna Ghetto; Shimon Eyal, who witnessed the beginning of the persecution of Jews in his native Paris; and Rina Czaczkes, who hid in a crowded tunnel underground for two years with four other people.

“We were surprised to see so much research about the lack of connection between teens and the Holocaust, which makes projects like these so important,” said Sigal Abudy, chief creative officer at McCann Tel Aviv. “The connection between the gamers and the survivors was so powerful. The gamers brought into the room the games they know so well, and the survivors completed the picture with their emotional stories—and gamers couldn’t believe the hardships the survivors had overcome, at younger ages they are right now.” 

“Zikaron Basalon is all about making the Holocaust stories accessible for everyone,” said Moran Zipper, the group’s co-CEO. “In order to make it accessible for the young generation, it was important for us to meet them on their own platform—gaming—the survivors’ stories on real maps from the game they all know.”

Credits

Date
Apr 24, 2023
Client :
Zikaraon Basalon
Agency :
McCann-Israel
Co-CEO :
Moran Zipper
Co-CEO :
Michal Lippmann
Marketing Manager :
Yarden Minzberg
Chief Creative Officer :
Sigal Abudy
Creative Director :
Asa Keren
Creative Director :
Yonatan Title
Creative Project Manager :
Sapir Zagury-Geva
Copywriter :
Oskar Mendel
Art Director :
May Idy
Art Director :
Kfir Perez
Project Manager :
Rotem Pirani
Agency Producer :
Uri Margalit
Agency Producer :
Oshri Turgeman
Strategic Planning Director :
Avishag Bar Moshe
Strategic Planner :
Noa Zinman
Co-Chief Creative Officer :
Pierre Lipton
SVP Group Creative Director :
Ethan Schmidt
SVP Group Creative Director :
Chad Baker
Chief Strategy Officer :
Emily Portnoy
SVP Director of Creative Excellence and Operations :
Stella Warkman
CCO :
Adrian Botan
President CLC and Creative Product :
John Mescall
Global Product Excellence Director :
Carmen Bistrian
SVP Global Director Creative Excellence :
Ann-Christine Diaz

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