This Crazy Ad for Activision’s Destiny 2 Has a Psycho Rhino Hell-bent on World Domination

Advertising-averse Beastie Boys gave their blessing to use 'Sabotage'

72andSunny/Activision's Destiny 2
Headshot of T.L. Stanley

It’s time to say goodbye to the things we know and love about America, including binge watching, ketchup and mustard, taco Tuesdays, skinny lattes, surprise parties and adorable puppies.

That is, unless we’re willing to work together and take up arms against an ultimate villain.

The new ad for Activision’s Destiny 2, a first-person shooter game, ratchets up the stakes around this premise by using both the cutest golden retriever ever and a classic Beastie Boys track to illustrate the point about this fictional postapocalyptic world: Shit just got real, y’all.

The campaign, launching today from 72andSunny, is intended to be “a blockbuster ad for a blockbuster game,” said the agency’s group creative director Matthew Curry.

Filmed in live action and directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts (Kong: Skull Island), the concept for the mini-movie came from the game’s conceit that nearly everything people hold dear will be lost to a “psycho rhino” hell-bent on world domination.

For those living in the U.S., that includes carbs, love songs and late-night texting, according to the ad. In a hyperlocal twist, the agency used research and insights to tailor the ads for the U.K. (they value their Sunday roasts and slippers), France (macarons and saucisson) and Germany (weisswurst and garden gnomes).

“We wanted to bring people into the emotion of the game, make the launch as visceral as possible,” Curry said, “and do it in a tongue-in-cheek, funny way.”

Execs knew they wanted the Beastie Boys song “Sabotage” as the soundtrack for the spot, narrated by Nathan Fillion, who plays the character Cayde-6 in the game. But they prepped a few alternatives because they didn’t think they would be able to snag the rights, with the band being notoriously and publicly advertising averse.

The agency caught a break because Vogt-Roberts had an existing relationship with the surviving Beasties, who watched the two-minute mix of cinematic action and winking humor and gave their blessing. The song, used last summer in the trailer for Star Trek Beyond, was “the perfect marriage of epic scale and badass energy,” Curry said.

Destiny 2, debuting Sept. 6, hopes to get out in front of a highly competitive market and a pack of shooter games premiering in the fourth quarter. Developers made this iteration friendlier to jump in and out of, as opposed to requiring massive time commitments, Curry said, and the ad aims to highlight its accessibility.

The agency designed the spot, which will run in various lengths on digital, TV and social, to capture hard-core gamers and novices to “cast as wide a net as possible and introduce new people to this big, rich world.”

“We use live-action to communicate to our core audiences as well as our more casual players to help bring in the pop culture fan base,” said Tim Ellis, CMO of Activision. “The combination of both game play and larger-than-life action trailers bring energy and scale to attract the world of Destiny 2 to a more mainstream audience.”

Client: Activision Publishing
Chief Executive Officer: Eric Hirshberg
Chief Marketing Officer: Tim Ellis
SVP, Consumer Marketing: Todd Harvey
VP, Consumer Marketing: Matt Small
Director, Consumer Marketing: Alonso Velasco
Sr. Manager, Consumer Marketing: Pam Piscitello
Associate Manager, Consumer Marketing: Edgar Gamez

Agency: 72andSunny
Chief Executive Officer: Matt Jarvis
Founder/Creative Co-Chair: Glenn Cole
Founder/Creative Co-Chair: John Boiler
Group Creative Director: Matthew Curry
Creative Director/Designer: Rob Teague
Creative Director/Writer: Tim Wolfe
Sr. Writer: Samuel Moore
Sr. Writer: Armando Samuels
Sr. Designer: Juri Zaech
Sr. Designer: Chase Madrid

@TLStanleyLA T.L. Stanley is a senior editor at Adweek, where she specializes in consumer trends, cannabis marketing, meat alternatives, pop culture, challenger brands and creativity.