Activision Publishing and creative agency 72andsunny are shifting their focus on the Call Of Duty franchise from virtual to reality.
Activision has introduced The Call of Duty Endowment (CODE) to help veterans find high-quality careers by supporting groups that prepare them for the job market and by raising awareness of the value vets bring to the workplace.
The advocacy initiative is aimed at an important fan base, since the Call of Duty franchise is particularly popular with military members. After all, military experts serve as consultants to help make the characters and scenarios more realistic.
This month, Activision, 72andsunny and documentary director Amir Bar Lev debut the PSA “The Honest Truth,” which showcases stereotypes veterans deal with when looking for civilian employment.
Unemployment among millennial-age new veterans is 7% higher than their non-veteran peers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
In the PSA, real veterans share their stories via Skype, revealing not only the stereotypes they are up against, but a multitude of struggles they encounter during their search for a quality job.
"It started with the truth that when people think of veterans they rarely picture who today's veterans actually are," says Josh Fell, creative director, 72andsunny. "We wanted to challenge America with the truth of what it's like for a veteran to return home and find a job. The stereotypes they face, and the resilient way they respond. We aimed to do this in a way that showed the true face of today's veterans. Raw. Unfiltered. Humans, just like you and me."
Still, this cause is not without challenges.
Activision and 72andsunny must balance between actual concern and assistance with being viewed as opportunistic, says Fell. "The biggest challenge was tone. We wanted to tell their story in a way that was meaningful and respectful, without depicting the veterans as charity cases.”
CODE plans to donate more than $4 million in grants to assist job-seeking veterans find employment.
In 2013, Call of Duty was the No. 1 franchise in North America for the fifth consecutive year, according to Activision financial reports. In 2013, Call of Duty had four of the top 10 most played games on Xbox Live, for Xbox 360. In addition, Black Ops II alone was played 4 billion hours in 2013. In 2012, the Call of Duty franchise achieved cumulative life-to-date revenues of approximately $8 billion.
This year, the publisher plans to release new iterations, based on the franchise and introduce Call of Duty online in China.