In developer IO Interactive’s long-running video game series “Hitman”, players skulk around various levels, dressing up in disguises to sneak up on their prey and “take them out.” And while it might sound a bit violent and nefarious (which it is), the games are well-known for their wry, often goofy humor.
It’s humor that’s at play with a brilliant campaign from IO and publisher Square Enix to promote the latest title in the series, dubbed simply “Hitman.” The new game is a departure from previous titles in that it’s being released as a series of short episodes in which players can advance the game’s story, as well as participate in a variety of other challenges — some of which are even made by other players. One such challenge will have players assassinating one of two famous Garys: Either actor Gary Busey (“Point Break”), or actor Gary Cole (“Office Space”).
The “Choose Your Hit” campaign kicks off with a YouTube trailer that pits the two actors against each other to see who’s the most awful. Fans of “Hitman” can then vote for which Gary they’d like to see digitized into the game, using the hashtags #KillBusey or #KillCole on Twitter to choose. The Gary with the most votes will be added to an upcoming piece of downloadable content for “Hitman” sometime this summer. See the entire campaign on its website at chooseyourhit.com.
LA-based advertising agency Omelet is behind the “Choose Your Hit” campaign, and has produced several short videos with Busey and Cole to help players choose between them. They’re all extremely funny, with Cole demonstrating the many ways he could die (miming strangulation, drowning, and betrayal, to name a few) in one, and Busey showing the combat skills that make him a formidable opponent (including fighting with a tomahawk, “beast mastery” and “eye lasers”) in another.
Video games often have some pretty fun and goofy marketing, but the “Choose Your Hit” campaign is in a league of its own just by virtue of how genuinely funny and clever it is. Not only does it offer something unique for “Hitman,” it does a phenomenal job of tapping into popular culture to do so. Even Omelet’s press release gets in on the joke.
It also leverages Busey and Cole for some hilarious videos, which would be pretty great in and of themselves. The entire campaign is a novel way to bring “Hitman” to a connected Internet audience through social media, reward players with something especially fun, and raise awareness for the game. Square Enix and Omelet know exactly what kind of audience they’re trying to reach with “Hitman,” and “Choose Your Hit” is a perfect way to entice them to delve into the game’s violent but funny world.