HOW DO YOU ANNOUNCE A GAMING ICON'S TRANSITION TO FREE-TO-PLAY?
WITH THE HELP OF A MUSICAL ICON.
PUBG launched and shaped the original Battle Royale experience. Now, it was going free-to-play.
That concept of "free" went beyond price point, though. In-game and IRL, the game's audience demands freedom: the freedom to travel, to land where they choose, to make their own decisions and express themselves. Or, to quote Sammy Davis Jr....
They've gotta be free.
To announce the shift to free-to-play, we licensed Sammy Davis Jr.’s iconic song “I’ve Gotta Be Me” and prepped an ambitious shoot in Mexico City that would bring core components of the game experience to life by way of a live-action anthem hero asset.
In and of itself, this Sammy Davis Jr. classic is an iconic showstopper, but in this case, the lyrics were a perfect fit for the lone-wolf gameplay mechanics of a Battle Royale:
“I gotta be free, I’ve gotta be free;
Daring to try, to do it or die;
I’ve gotta be me;
I’ll go it alone, that’s how it must be…”
Serving as a rallying cry for our audience, the legendary song helped set the stage for a :60 spot that was as aspirational as it was inspirational, helping reposition the shooter’s transition from free-to-play to must-play, and eventizing the biggest change to the franchise in years.
Client PUBG Santa Monica
Project PUBG "Gotta Be Me" Campaign
What We Did
- :60, :30, :15
- Live Action Shoot
- Social Launch
- Wardrobe, Casting, Props
GOTTA BE FREE
PUBG wasn't just shifting its price point to "free" - it was also reinforcing to its audience that in the game, you're free to make decisions to play how you want, where you want, when you want. By rallying around Sammy Davis Jr's classic hit, we were able to craft a juxtaposition between Sammy's classic song and urban warfare — all rooted in a character-led story about characters shaking "free" from their stale professional lives.
Producing amidst COVID protocols on a tight holiday timeline, we delivered a coordinated strike with our production partners, scouting the perfect location in Mexico City, casting a full roster of heroes and extras, securing an armory's worth of prop weapons and vehicles, and bringing the resulting footage to life via VFX.
Beyond the paid media usage across digital, social, and OTT, "Gotta Be Free" was a major turning point for the brand. We helped premiere the asset by leveraging VFX footage into a disruptive social announce asset that shattered user newsfeeds and activated the announce.
As the original Battle Royale, PUBG wasn't just focused on catalyzing interest amongst casual fans -- it was also activating a return from lapsed core fans. In our spot, the main characters experience a similar awakening as they abandon the doldrums of their daily lives, donning gear and migrating to the action as the Battle Royale's blue circle closes in on the city around them.