The Deconstructed Brief

It’s time to get the squad back together.

It’s time to get the squad back together.

Brand: Activision, "Call of Duty: WWII"


The “Call of Duty” (CoD) franchise is a war-themed, first-person shooter game that arguably revolutionized the gaming industry with its multiplayer format. Many hyper-realistic maps, customizable weapon sets and the ability to form your own clan (online teams) with friends or strangers — I’ve personally spent days playing “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare” in my college days.

At least a decade has passed since the franchise first made a name for itself. Now, it’s time to introduce the next game, “Call of Duty: WWII.”


Just show them the gameplay” is a category cliché.

The gamers that helped make CoD  famous are older, have more responsibilities and don’t get to play nearly as often as they’d like — though they remember their early CoD days fondly.

The multiplayer gameplay is what makes the game — not the single player campaign mode.

These guys formed clans with their buddies — naming the clan, having clearly defined roles on the battlefield and scheduling their next battles together in advance. It was serious.

One Thought:

It’s time to get the squad back together. 


In the “Call of Duty: WWII” trailer titled, “Reassemble,” we find a 30-something guy that, in the spirit of “The Dirty Dozen” or “Ocean’s Eleven,” begins to recruit his friends one by one to reassemble the squad when he learns that “Call of Duty: WWII” is coming out.

It’s comical and all-so-relatable for those of us that remember the countless days of wrecking other clans in our high school and college days — only to find ourselves weighed down by responsibility and dwindling amounts of free time. We watch as one guy sneaks out of his boring office job to play, and another guy has to get permission from his wife for temporary relief from his dad duties. Sure enough, the guys get back together and couldn’t be more pumped about it. 

Lessons to be learned:

  • Identify category clichés. - Then, toss them out the window, or at least mock them. — Is your category defined by smiling-doctor-and-patient interactions that seem contrived? Or people that are all-too-excited to be hanging out with their local banker that cuts through the red tape of traditional banks? What about the kid that gives Mom a big hug after a delicious yet healthy snack that doesn’t taste like a healthy snack — followed by a proud “mom wink” because she knows she just did something good? CoD (and the Madden franchise) has clearly stood clear of just showing the gameplay in its trailers. It has already established credibility with graphics, gameplay and customization — it was time to move on to a deeper, more meaningful insight to bring gamers back to the latest game in the franchise.
  • Do you really know your target? - Sure, many of us know the whitewashed version of our target that we picked up from secondary research. Most briefs are built for classic media targeting, such as: “Moms between 25–34, with a HHI of $50K, with two kids, constantly trying to balance a busy schedule, healthier foods and occasional indulgences.” That’s all well and good, but creative briefs need insights that come from spending time with the target in the real world and observing its behavior. Without knowing its target, the agency could’ve mistakenly assumed that the target was still teenage boys or those Millennials that still live in their parents’ basements, which was simply not true. So, if you haven’t spent any meaningful time with your target to hear verbatims about its actions and attitudes, plan to do so. Activision did, and it’ll pay dividends.