Hitman, a video game tasking players with creatively assassinating awful people and slipping away from the scene unseen, has heralded a new, and bizarre, level of marketing integration with the launch of downloadable content calling for the murder of notorious actor Gary Busey.
The mad-as-it-sounds campaign from Omelet LA kicked off earlier this year, to promote the latest installation of the game, running a series of live-action video ads – that could literally be killed. The content brought to life hits fans of the series would be familiar with, giving them the option to choose how the notorious ‘Wolfshark’ kingpin would be dispatched with an interactive ad kill switch on YouTube.
Next, Omelet, somehow managed to pit Gary Cole and Gary Busey against each other in a series of political style videos dubbed ‘Choose Your Hit’ - an odd addition to the Hitman lore that asked the public to vote on which Gary would eventually become a target in the game - with a twist - each star appealed to voters, claiming they alone should be dispatched.
On the less than conventional marketing drive, Jimmy Barker, a senior copywriter at Omelet said the entire Hitman community rallied behind the creative eventually putting Busey behind the crosshairs.
The agency, along with Square Enix and IO Interactive, then had to develop a script around the premise, recording countless lines of funny dialogue with the stars to bring to life the mission – that all started as an online ad.
The DLC launched last week and is available for seven days only. The writers perhaps get meta claiming Busey went rogue during an ad shoot in fictional Italian coastal town Sapienza – with the client keen to terminate the relationship… permanently.
On working with the duo, Barker said: “Both Garys brought a ton of energy and enthusiasm to the project, and, most importantly, they really worked well together and were able to riff a lot, which was great. Finding the right talent to nail the dark humor of the series was critical, so having the skills and comedy craft of two amazing and wildly different acting veterans is a big reason why everything came together as well as it did.”
Both actors had previously voiced characters in games before but neither had experienced the rigours of being inserted into a facial capture device while acting the scenes.
"Initially, we were nervous that veterans of their caliber might be put off by the premise of competing to be assassinated, but we were dead wrong," continued Barker. "They both loved it and were fully on board, adding a ton of energy and ad-libs that really made this fun the whole way through.”
Omelet from the get-go knew that “hardcore Hitman fans would respond to the idea of voting a celebrity target into the game,” which it argued would meld “perfectly with the episodic format”, raising awareness of the side contracts that can pop up from time to time.
Barker concluded: “Finding the right talent, crafting the mission, and getting everything right takes time. Luckily for us, our partners at Square Enix and IO Interactive are committed to offering their fans unique, unexpected experiences, and it took both of them putting their full weight behind the idea to make this whole crazy thing possible.”
Check out the mission as played by YouTuber the RadBrad below.