The “Squad Up” commercial was just released for the Call of Duty: Modern
Warfare II video game. The ad has a bunch of celebrities in it, like famous
rapper Nicki Minaj, comedian Pete Davidson, singer Kane Brown, and a whole
lot of other people I’m too old to recognize or care about. They all sing a
song that’s supposed to be cool, but everything is just too cringy.
It amuses me to imagine that behind this ad was, in fact, a really old guy
that threw in a bunch of stuff together, thinking that “young people” would
"dig it,” like celebrities singing a hit song from his time in the army in
The trailer starts off on an airstrip with a huge plane that looks a lot like
a Lockheed C-130 Hercules. Then the action moves inside the plane, where a
bunch of people on motorcycles start revving them up while a famous rapper is
beginning to sing the familiar "left, left, left, right, left" lyrics that
kick everything into gear.
Of course, the GMC Hummer EV pickup reappears in the clip. This time it's
accompanied by a bunch of people on ATVs and bikes that try too hard to look
like they mean business.
Then, these famous people are filmed in diverse locations all over the world
while singing a rewritten version of “I Don't Know, But I've Been Told.” I
think the idea was meant to inspire those who watch to think everything
that’s going on is really, really cool and somehow make them want to buy the
Now, I’m no Martin Scorsese, but as a huge Call of Duty fan, this ad with
zero gameplay in it didn’t do anything for me except make me cringe really
Take, for instance, the scene with the McLarens. We see Formula One driver
for the McLaren team Lando Norris doing donuts in a 650S model. Also, there’s
a 720S model standing nearby.
I understand the correlation between him and McLaren. Given the terms of the
contract between them, it’s not like he could have appeared in an ad with a
Ferrari. But at the end of the day, how does that have anything to do with
Call of Duty?
Well, nothing at first glance, but maybe that wasn’t the point at all. Maybe,
this unintentionally cringy commercial is meant to grab at the fan base of
the on-screen celebrities. Which, as a marketing scheme, is pretty good.
So you get people like Nicki Minaj to star in it, their fans hear about the
collaboration between them and CoD: MW II, and thus, hopefully, many of them
will surely check it out. At least a Google search, if nothing else.
Now let's get back to the artistic vision of the commercial itself. The main
idea, tone, and direction of the video try to be cool, hardcore, and things
of this nature, but it just falls flat. Don’t get me wrong, it’s really well
filmed and edited from a production standpoint, but to what it tries to come
across as, it misses the mark by a margin.
This is ironic when you think about it, given the resources Activision has
for pulling off something like this. The budget for this ad must have been
huge. Probably in the neighborhood of $5 million or more, judging by the cast
it employed and the high level of production of the entire thing.
Of course, it’s safe to assume that Activision will get its money back a
hundred-fold, given that every time Call of Duty shows up on the gaming
scene, it obliterates every other game out there in terms of sales.
But the point I'm making is not about the money but about the art of making a
cool, catchy commercial in line with the passionate people that play this
game. This could have been such a memorable ad if it had more passion put
into it. Like the ones PlayStation used to make with their real-life human
mascot Kevin Butler during the PS3 era.
I am a huge, huge fan of Call of Duty, especially the Modern Warfare series,
and I can tell you beyond the shadow of a doubt that this ad won’t mobilize
any fan to “squad up.”
However... as I was saying, maybe this wasn’t meant for the CoD fans after
all. Maybe it was intended to gather new fans. This could be a legit
Modern Warfare II is coming out physically in stores and digitally on October
28 for $70. However, those who pre-order the game will get to play the
single-player campaign a week early.
Let's go Brandon!