Playing Video Games Is Like Pursuing Enlightenment in HP Omen’s New Ads

Wieden + Kennedy Shanghai highlights positive effects of gaming

Wieden + Kennedy Shanghai's ads show how gamers achieve the highest level of "gamefulness."
HP Omen

Gaming has long shouldered an unfair legacy, requiring its defenders—most often gamers themselves—to fend off stereotypes and gross misinformation. While skeptics continue to wrongfully trace the world’s ills back to the ever-evolving industry, scientists have studied the increasingly positive effects gaming can have on memory, accuracy and problem-solving.

To highlight these largely unsung benefits, gaming PC maker HP Omen and creative agency Wieden + Kennedy Shanghai created a demonstration using a tool called The Gamewaves Scanner at ChinaJoy, China’s largest digital entertainment expo.

The exhibit used cutting-edge technology to measure brain activity in real time, showcasing how people respond to moments that require teamwork, responsiveness, mental stamina, focus and memory. The experience was titled Achieving Gamefulness, and it was the start of an integrated campaign set to launch across China.

To synthesize their findings for a wider audience, HP Omen and W+K Shanghai created a trio of 30-second shorts: “Achieve Mental Stamina,” “Achieve Teamwork” and “Achieve Focus.”

The arc features a troop of gamers being led by supreme humans called The Masters as they hope to achieve the highest level of enlightenment. Their transparent heads—highly creepy in any other context—cleverly show their brains breaking down and reassembling like building blocks, synapses lighting up and bursts of activity as their PC adventures build them into cognitively stronger beings. The elaborate campaign also features appearances by professional esports gamers LoveZrr, Wink, and AmazingJ from Team RNG.

“This job was an interesting mix of technical challenges. It really had it all: a massive set build, heavy CGI, stunts … 60 lights choreographed to music and celebrity gamers,” said Alexander Mavor of The Sacred Egg, which directed the short films alongside Hamlet Productions. “We always try to achieve an aesthetic that is unique to each project. This, in particular, was an amazing opportunity to create a brand universe with its own look, tone, characters and rules. Something that is entirely unique and ownable for Omen and which gamers want to be a part of.”

Achieving Gamefulness aims to highlight the positive side of gaming by centering the player rather than the product, an approach that makes sense in a country with over 600 million gamers. Settling the concerns of those outside the community is undoubtedly important; however, encouraging gaming enthusiasts to continue pursuing their interests should yield lasting results.

Recommended videos

A spokesperson for the Omnicom-owned agency network 180 confirmed today that the company recently launched an internal investigation into employee behavior at its Los Angeles office.

“180 is conducting an investigation into workplace conduct and the company culture,” the representative told Adweek. “It is ongoing, and we will act accordingly once we have concluded the investigation.”

The statement continued: “We are committed to ensuring a working environment that is inclusive, safe and respectful, and where we treat each other, clients and suppliers with dignity and respect. At this time we are unable to comment further.”

This comes during a transitional period for 180LA, which has been through a series of leadership changes and major account losses over the past 18 months. The agency was forced to downsize after clients such as Asics, Mitsubishi, Miller Lite and Expedia moved their business elsewhere, but multiple parties with direct knowledge of the situation told Adweek the investigation is a separate matter.

180LA won several Cannes Lions last summer for its Boost Mobile work, and it continues to pitch new business and produce campaigns for clients like University of Phoenix, Lululemon and Postmates.

Earlier this month, 180 confirmed that it would soon part ways with global CEO Mike Allen. He will be replaced by Al Moseley, who managed 180 Amsterdam before moving to Los Angeles and being promoted to global president late last year.

Allen’s exit follows those of global chief strategy officer and managing partner Mike Harris, chief creative officer William Gelner and co-executive creative director Rafael Rizuto, an exodus that began in late 2016 when the global Asics account went into review.

And this month, 180LA laid off a small number of employees including its head of creative services. A representative said the layoffs were tied to Expedia’s decision to consolidate global advertising work with Saatchi & Saatchi after a review.