Draftfcb San Francisco's new Mass Effect 3 spot does something few video-game ads have the confidence to try: It mixes live-action footage with shots created by the game's graphics engine.
Somewhat surprisingly, it does so seamlessly. The shots of parents crying and clasping their children look perfectly fine next to CGI "footage" of our hero, Shepard, dashing through the rubble and blasting his way through various monsters (possibly because we don't get to see Shepard's unobscured face).
The Mass Effect series is a difficult property to market, precisely because of the things that make it appealing. Unlike, say, fellow hardcore role-playing game Skyrim, it's a cinematic challenge with a lot of moral choices to be made—if it's anything like its predecessors, at any rate. Unlike fellow sweeping epic RPG Deus Ex: Human Revolution, it doesn't have a set protagonist. (Shepard is usually portrayed as a male because 80 percent of the players choose a man, though EA and Bioware did release one trailer for Mass Effect 3 with a female Shepard.) So, to advertise the game, you have to communicate a sense of epic sci-fi adventure while remaining coy about who, exactly, is doing the adventuring.
Draftfcb has it right with this spot—people expressing strong emotion within the world of a game that is basically selling emotional attachment to its characters. The game has gone for exactly this kind of thing before, but this spot gets what makes the games so compelling—that "Look! It's a frightened person next to an alien!" feeling, and the visceral connection that comes with it.
Also, for some reason, every big trailer-type spot so far has ended with Shepard preparing to stab that big light-up-face robo-alien-monkey thing with his glowing sword. And you know, I want to do that.
Client: Electronic Arts, Mass Effect 3
Agency: Draftfcb, San Francisco
Title: "Fight for Everything"
Chief Creative Officer: Chris Ford
Group Creative Directors: Tony Vazquez, Colin McRae
Associate Creative Directors: Derrick Ho, Jake Slody
Art Director: Alyssa Collis
Copywriter: Will Decher
Senior Producer: Jeremy Arth
Production Company: Caviar Content
Director: Reynald Gresset
Executive Producer: Michael Sagol, Jasper Thomlinson
Line Producer: Louis Saint-Calbre
Director of Photography: Patrick Duroux
Production Service: Unit+Sofa
Executive Producer: Fady Salame
Line Producer: Petra Ondrickova
Editor: Russell Icke
Assistant Editor: Brandon Porter
Senior Producer: Kristin Branstetter
Visual Effects: Mill London
Executive Producer: Will Cohen
Animation Director: Jean-Claude Deguara
Finishing: Mill, Los Angeles
Head of Production: Arielle Davis
Colorist: Adam Scott
Sound Design: Ren Klyce, Mit Out Sound
Audio Mix: Michael Semanick, Skywalker Sound
Audio Mix: Rohan Young, Lime Studios
Music: Human Worldwide