Ubisoft Enlists Smosh and Rob Dyrdek for Watch Dogs Hack Ad

Video game publisher works viral stars into strategy

Hacking used to be associated with geek culture, but Ubisoft wants to turn the activity mainstream with its newest game Watch Dogs.

In its latest ad campaign, the video game publisher taps into Smosh's over-the-top antics and Rob Dyrdek's chill skateboarder persona to humorously inform viewers about the principles behind the Chicago-based gameplay. The three stars team up to run away from stereotypical bad guys who are after a special hacking phone that ends up in their hands. 

"(The phone) is the ultimate hacking took that can turn infrastructure into weapons and lets you manipulate your environment," Alex Banks, associate brand manager for Ubisoft, told Adweek.

Sure, it's super corny at times, but it speaks directly to the majority 18-to-34 male demographic that lives and breathes video online. Smosh has more than 17.7 million subscribers on YouTube, while Dyrdek has been a huge success on MTV with his shows Fantasy Factory and Ridiculousness

This isn't the first time that YouTube influencers have helped promote the upcoming game, which will be released for most gaming platforms on May 27. The publisher tricked unsuspecting public members into thinking their phones had hacking powers in its video Amazing Street Hack. Sky Does Minecraft also rendered the game into the virtual sandbox world. And, it worked with YouTube stunt cinematographer DevinSuperTramp as well as RatedRR, who rigged a real cell phone to do what he does best: blow stuff up.

"In general as we build towards launch, we're working with Smosh and some of these YouTube influencers to tell our story in a different way," Banks said.

Ubisoft has had success using viral stars to promote its products in the past, including Smosh's Ultimate Assassin's Creed 3 Song, which has been viewed 50.5 million times. Banks said it's a strategy that the brand plans to stick to. "It's our general prescriptive approach," he explained.