“Call of Duty” Latest Marketing Campaign Raises Ethical Questions


Copy Support

When it comes to marketing the upcoming release of a movie, television show or video games, marketing tactics can be a great hit or major miss with their audiences.

Recently, the “Call of Duty” marketing team created a fake terrorist attack on Twitter in a failed attempt to promote the upcoming game, “Call of Duty: Black Ops III.”

The latest entry in the long-running franchise is set in a dark, distant future where soldiers have been augmented with cybernetics and must go on many covert operations around the world.

The marketing campaign consisted of changing the “Call of Duty” Twitter page to a fake news outlet without mentioning any warning.

The campaign then included breaking news of a terrorist attack in Singapore, with no disclosing statement to the public that this was not real.

Instead, it was designed to give fans a sneak peek of the world in which the game is set in. However at the time of the announcement, this was not evident.

The PR stunt was met with a large number of criticism because it was too realistic and could have caused a public panic.

Fans and other online users were outraged that the marketing team would even perform a campaign such as this. With the falling out from this PR failure, Professor Gary Carlin agrees that the PR team overstepped their boundaries.

“Although many video games are known for their ‘over the top’ violence and pushing the envelope, I think this marketing campaign went too far,” said Carlin.

Social media is not only a place for communicating online, it is also used by millions of people to keep up-to-date with the latest news stories. Carlin felt that creating fake stories about a terrorist threat was not the right move.

“Many people read things on social media and believe it’s true,” said Carlin. “Spreading false news is never a good idea.”

Other tactics could have been employed that might have resulted in a better outcome from the marketing stunt. Carlin thought it would have been best for the PR to utilize a better method in delivering their message.

“I applaud their creativity,” said Carlin. “However, there are other ways to get your message out without alarming people. Perhaps a better approach would be to focus on game reviewers with this campaign.”  

Another idea that could prevent this marketing stunt from being a failure would be if the PR team could come up with different ideas about how to execute the campaign.

“I don’t know the specifics of the game, but I would direct my PR team to come up with several alternatives based on the uniqueness of the game,” said Carlin. “The next step would be evaluating these alternatives and picking the winning PR campaign that would gain attention, but not literally scare people.”

With the marketing for “Call of Duty: Black Ops III” being criticized for how threatening it was, it would seem that coming up with another way of marketing the game might have been more effective.

Hopefully, the marketing team has learned from this failure and will remember what tactics to avoid in order to promote their next video game in the future.

Brian Martin

Brian Martin is entering his final semester and intends to make the most out of it. As his time with iPulse is coming to an end, Martin looks back on his previous years and cherishes all the experiences he has had in such a short period of time. Having received numerous academic accolades and partaking in different internships, including one with the Miami Herald, Martin is only striving to learn even more and succeed following his graduation this May. After graduation, he plans to move to Los Angeles and work for a pop culture news organization like IGN. Being a nerd at heart, his passions include playing video games and reading comics.

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