Monday, 4 April 2016

The Art Of Celebrity Video Game Endorsement

This was written for and published by Forces Of Geek sometime last month. I kept seeing advertisements for crappy iOS games endorsed by well established actors, which fuelled the rant you are about to read, hope you enjoy!

Using celebrities to sell your games console or game is not a new phenomena, companies know that celebrity driven advertisement equals huge uptake in sales and brand awareness. I can't say I blame these celebrities either, many of them are huge fans of the gaming industry and genuinely want to endorse the things they love, much like Robin Williams (rest his soul) and his daughter Zelda in those Nintendo adverts for the DS version of Ocarina Of Time and then again a few years back for the Nintendo Wii.

Incidentally, Williams did actually name his daughter Zelda after The Legend Of Zelda games!
Though, there are some celebrities who are less bothered by the product because they will do absolutely anything if you waft an insane sum of money at them, like have their face plastered all over dog turds (I mean, I bet if you told Shia LeBoeuf it was 'art', he'd do it...actually, he'd probably do it free...bad example, sorry).

Anyway, the reason I'm writing about celebrity endorsements is because I've noticed mobile games have jumped on the bandwagon lately; there's Kate Upton in those dreadfully exploitative Game Of War ads, Mobile Strike fronted by Arnold Schwarzenegger and even Academy award winner (let me say that again, ACADEMY AWARD WINNER!!) Christoph Waltz in the Clash Of Clans advertisements.

But it's not just women's objectified bodies or muscular action heroes or even esteemed, award winning ac-TORS who advertise games because as Atari proved in the 80s, even blind celebrities can endorse your product:

Alright, so I lied.

Stevie Wonder didn't actually feature in that advertisement (it was a photoshopped effects pedal ad of a product he did actually use in his music) and Atari aren't into offending the blind...I hope.

But, this poster did the rounds on various social networks last year and it although it was met with cynicism by all rational thinking human beings, it was surprising how many people believed it was real or more interestingly, were willing to believe it. Unsurprising really when you consider how popular culture has been littered with weird publicity stunts and celebrity backed campaigns in the last 30 years or so.

Plus, it's believable because we all know that advertising companies are the actual devil because how else could they have tricked Christoph Waltz into selling them his soul?! Think about it, an actor of his calibre doesn't need the money, the man can out-act the hell out of anyone sharing the screen with him.
Maybe he did it so he could afford to buy a dragon? Seems fair.
It also strikes me as odd that companies often hire celebrities that don't seem to fit their product. 

Advertising Executive: We need a celebrity behind this. 
Intern: Who did you have in mind? 
Ad Exec: I don't care, as long as they're famous. Now go get me a steak dinner and a £4000 bottle of cognac, it's lunchtime.....

I imagine. 

Odd given that there are so many celebrities who would be perfectly suited to promoting video games. I've even come up with a few.

Metal Gear Solid

Imagine if the Metal Gear Solid franchise had a celebrity who could almost be Solid Snake? Someone who also donned an eyepatch and was as much of a badass, someone like Kurt Russell. Yep, Snake Plissken meets Solid Snake in a series of ads promoting the Metal Gear Solid franchise!

This would be perfect and why? Well, I know to a lot of MGS fans this is obvious but for those of you who might not know, Solid Snake was actually based on John Carpenter's Snake Plissken. Hiring Russell would have been an excellent opportunity for both Kojima and Carpenter to playfully pit both Snake's against one another with hilarious consequences...or something. I don't know. Get someone else to work out the details, what am I a WRITER?! I'm going to hide in a cardboard box for a while.

Snake meet, er...Snake!
Mass Effect

Visualise a beautiful planet among the stars in an unknown solar system, suddenly the reflection of Commander Shepard appears and the camera pans back to reveal a space ship, only, the person you originally thought was Shepard is actually Neil deGrasse Tyson. His soothing, educational voice starts speaking, nay, explaining exactly what 'Mass Effect' actually means. 

Edit in some visuals from the game throughout and right at the end, deGrasse Tyson gives a little grin as we hear over the ships tannoy "I am Commander Shepard and I this is my favourite message in the Citadel". BAM! 

The best thing about this suggestion is you can really imagine him accepting this job.

Er...this is a screenshot from Neil deGrasse Tyson's show Cosmos and *not* the Illusive Man from Mass Effect!
This is the Illusive Man. Or is it DeGrasse Tyson?!
Street Fighter

I'd really love to see Russell Crowe promoting Street Fighter but in a tongue in cheek way. The opening scene is Crowe in a bar, someone dressed up like M.Bison knocks into him, his drinks spills. 

Crowe is naturally furious, smashes his glass and attempts to pick up a chair only to have the barman lean over, make a pointed look at the shotgun behind him and say "take it outside". 

Outside, we see several classic Street Fighter characters waiting to take on Crowe. The scene then cuts to Crowe back inside, nursing his head and wincing as he takes a sip of whiskey, he turns to the camera and says "What? I'm a bar fighter not a street fighter".

The advert ends with a shot of the game and the iconic Street Fighter title only it starts as Bar Fighter until Ken kicks the 'Bar' away. Hey, want to hire me, Yoshinori Ono? 

A new Street Fighter character announced!
Cooking Mama

I'm not saying we should replace Mama but she is pretty cruel, if you make a mistake what kind of Mama gets so angry she tells you "you're not mine!"? I get it though, tough love. 

Cooking is no joke, I enjoy cooking food (though I prefer to eat it) and I understand that to become a culinary genius you need coaching. What I would like to present however, is an alternative if being shouted at is your thing. This franchise is ideal for celebrity chefs! 

My suggestion of course is the foul mouthed angry chef man, Gordon Ramsay. Picture the scene, it's a family living room, a child sits playing Cooking Mama and every time a mistake is made, Gordon shows up, gets in their face and shouts insults. 

Eventually, an animated Mama with fire in her eyes leaps out of then game and starts berating Ramsay, throwing insults back at him until he is reduced to tears. 

Cut to Gordon, the child and Mama sitting round a dinner table eating awkwardly in silence, Gordon reaches for the salt but it's shoved out of the way and onto the floor by Mama.  

The title appears with a voiceover "Cooking Mama, it's not Hell's Kitchen, it's Mama's"

Cooking Mama, scarier than Gordon Ramsey...
Sim City

American Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump..sorry, I meant Donald Drumpf would be the ideal celebrity endorsement for Sim City games. The advertisement would start with Donald recommending that you build 'yuuuuge' towers with his name plastered everywhere, along with a long conveyor belt for removing people he doesn't like. Then at the end of the ad, several of his supporters would weigh in, shouting "Build the wall, Build the wall". 

Though, I think in actuality Drumpf is the celebrity Sim City would least like to represent their game, even if an advertisement that openly mocks him would be extremely satisfying to create. And he'd certainly do it, after all, money is involved.

What's odd is that Drumpf actually tried his hand at a video game many years ago, Donald Trump's Real Estate Tycoon. It's basically a rip off of Sim City except you are a protege of Drumpf's. After completing five levels you can then compete against Drumpf. Of course, many people who played the game complained that the game makes that near impossible. Yet again another vain attempt to convince himself he always wins and that his name is apparently worth billions, right?

Wait, money increases when people burn? Is Drumpf, Satan?!
Welcome to Trump Mode, you must become an egotistical deluded billionaire
and you must put your name on everything you own!
So which celebrities would you hire to sell video games? Personally, I still love the World Of Warcraft advertisements with Mr. T, Ozzy Osbourne and Chuck Norris - just to name a few! 

Who are your favourite celebrity video game endorsers? Let me know in the comments section.

The Art Of Celebrity Video Game Endorsement


  1. Not playing Game of War - FIRE AGE? Download Game of War - FIRE AGE HERE (Built for Android & iOS)

  2. Still not playing Mobile Strike? Download MOBILE STRIKE Now (Built for iOS and Android)