With its new Call of Duty: Black Ops video game set to drop on Nov. 9, Activision kicked off the advertising push for the game in a new, big and loud spot that features "Gimme Shelter," Jimmy Kimmel, a boatload of explosions and everybody's favorite/least favorite NBA sniper, Kobe Bryant(notes) of the Los Angeles Lakers.
See the fire sweeping our very street today:
The 60-second spot, titled "There Is a Soldier in All of Us," will make its television debut during this Sunday's NFL broadcasts, according to Advertising Age. One eyebrow-raiser: Everybody depicted, including Bryant and Kimmel, reportedly fired real weapons in the making of the commercial.
Asked whether he was worried about backlash from the use of real weapons, [Activision Publishing chief marketing officer and chief creative officer Brad] Jakeman said: "We are very proud of the work we've done and continue to do to educate parents around the rating systems of video games. This game is rated M, for people 17 years and over ... we are careful to run the advertising in programming that is not set out to target people under the age of 17." He added that the "playful tone" of the commercial with "Jimmy Kimmel ineptly firing a gun in a mock war zone" sufficiently conveys hyperbole for consumers.
Because this involves video games, violence, guns and Kobe Bryant, there's a pretty good chance that some (or maybe even many) people will find some reason or another to be upset at this commercial. I'm not one of them.
I don't play Call of Duty, but I know some well-adjusted people who do, and as a rule, I regard skeptically any and all suggestions that video games alone rot minds and ruin lives, because I think there's way, way more to the story than that. I'm much more leery of the "shooting real guns" element of this, but if Kobe, his family, the Lakers and his representatives felt comfortable enough with the safety precautions being taken in production to proceed with the filming of the spot, then I got no quarrel with a grown man doing something he wants to do and endorsing a product he reportedly digs:
Each of the actors in the spot is also a gamer in real life, including the celebrities. "Kobe Bryant is a huge 'Call of Duty' gamer, and Jimmy Kimmel has been introduced to the franchise by his son, I believe, who is also a 'Call of Duty' enthusiast," said [Jakeman].
I mean, if someone offered me the chance to be paid to appear in a commercial for Saturday Night Slam Masters, I'd be in there like swimwear. Go for yours like I'd go for mine, Kobe.
Two more pieces of understandable-in-context, but weird-on-their-own-merits pieces of Kobe/Call of Duty promotional info:
(For the record, I don't think I'd drive a limited edition Saturday Night Slam Masters Hyundai with a raging King Rasta Mon airbrushed on the hood. I don't think.)
2. Kobe appeared at Thursday night's Black Ops launch event at the Santa Monica Airport, where he joined "Scrubs" bro/"Garden State"sman Zach Braff to present a $1 million check to the Call of Duty Endowment, an Activision-founded nonprofit organization that helps veterans transition to civilian careers after their military service has ended.
I'm sure Kobe was psyched to support a good cause, but he didn't seem too thrilled to be sharing that moment with Braff:
"The Shins didn't change my life. Jerk."