The billion-dollar blockbuster sales history of “Call of Duty” and its broad reach among young men with healthy entertainment budgets make it a prime target for music synchronization. In a demonstration of the brand’s ability to woo top-level talent, the announcement event for the forthcoming tent-pole title “Call of Duty: Ghosts” on Aug. 14 featured the world premiere of Eminem’s new song “Survival” in the game’s trailer. The track marked the rap superstar’s first new solo material to be released in more than two years.
“For someone at Eminem’s level it’s a huge priority for us to find the appropriate partners and platforms to expose the music in a credible way,” says Steve Berman, longtime vice chairman/head of marketing at Interscope, noting that ActivisionBlizzard research showed Eminem as the artist that players most frequently affiliated with. “This pairing felt very comfortable because [Activision] understands the art and knows how to deliver.”
In addition to premiering the song, which will be featured in “Ghosts” when it ships in November, Activision helped influence its sound. Representatives for the company visited Eminem in June while he was in the recording studio, showing him concept art and game footage that provided inspiration.
“I think it led to the song we have now,” ActivisionBlizzard VP of music affairs Tim Riley says of the visits. “I heard maybe five versions of [“Survival”] in the months after we visited him and they got bigger and bigger every time.”
In the wake of Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s recent blockbuster deals to premiere new music through Pepsi and Samsung, respectively, the “Call of Duty” partnership with Eminem could signal the new normal between superstar artists and brands.
“‘Call of Duty’ is the biggest franchise there is,” Berman says. “This was an opportunity that we couldn’t resist.”