Celebrity endorsements are as old as advertising itself -- after all, there's nothing like a face people already recognize to convince buyers to trust a product. But over the past few years, the video game franchise "Call of Duty" has practically staked its reputation on getting celebrities you wouldn't expect to star in their trailers.
The star-studded campaign first began in earnest with an ad for "Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 3" trailer that brought in Sam Worthington as a veteran gamer, with Jonah Hill and Dwight Howard as his noob companions. After that they got director Guy Ritchie to direct a celeb-studded trailer starring Robert Downey Jr. (among many others), and another trailer the next year that featured Megan Fox. And don't even get us started on the Chinese "Call of Duty: Online" trailer that Chris Evans starred in earlier this year.
"Our creative positioning for 'Call of Duty' is 'There’s a soldier in all of us,'"
Todd Harvey, the Senior Vice President of Consumer Marketing for Activision, told MTV News over email. "Its expression has evolved from year to year, but that underlying message has never been more true. 'Call of Duty' is played by all types of people, from high-profile celebrities to everyday fans."
The latest ad for "Black Ops 3," entitled "Seize Glory," does a great job of illustrating that idea. Released this weekend, it features Michael B. Jordan, Marshawn Lynch and Cara Delevingne as they follow a totally average player named "Kevin" in his quest to save the day.
You'd think that most of the actors, athletes and Youtubers that appear in these commercials are just in it for the paycheck, but as Harvey told us, many of them are pretty big fans of the series. In fact, sometimes they even reach out to Activision to see if they can get themselves involved.
"We’re constantly amazed not only with how steeped in 'Call of Duty' knowledge some of the cast is, but also how committed they are in their game play preferences and routines," Harvey noted. " It’s fascinating and something I always appreciate every chance we get to collaborate."
One example of a famous fan who showed up at Activision's door, eager to get involved? Michael B. Jordan, who appears in the latest trailer.
"This all kind of came about [from] me and my manager just talking about things I like, what I was interested in, things that we want to accomplish," he told a video crew from Activision Publishing while filming the commercial. "And I was like, man, we should see if 'Call of Duty' has something going on at Comic-Con -- I was gonna be up there anyway for 'Fantastic Four.'
"It was like a shot in the dark. It was like, let's reach out and see if this is something we can be a part of... and over the next couple of months, we continued to conversation and it just happened to work out, timing wise."
Model and actress Cara Delevingne's also been playing the games for years, quietly building up a relationship with the studio behind-the-scenes."
Our history with Cara goes back to when she used to attend some of our events simply because she wanted to play the game," Harvey said. "So, she’s been on our radar for some time and we’ve just been looking for the right opportunity to work with her. She was perfect for 'Seize Glory' and we’re thrilled we finally got a chance to make it happen."
Jordan also told Activision that he's happy to be a part of the game's legacy. "Being such a huge fan of 'Black Ops,' being a part of this campaign and this trailer, it just means a lot.... You've got so many actors and athletes who've had a chance to grace to stage of 'Call of Duty,' so I'm just honored to be a part of it."
"Call Of Duty: Black Ops 3" hits video game stores on November 6.