Merge Mansion, a Metacore-owned mobile game released in 2020, initially got attention with ads that Kotaku described as “weird.” The publisher has upped the ante with a round of new ads from Weiden + Kennedy, Portland, Oregon.
The game involves cleaning a giant house with a mysterious Grandma Ursula. In the game, Ursula eludes her granddaughter Maddie. The creepy Ursula, played by actress Kathy Bates, is often replaced by a knitted mannequin.
In one ad, Maddie is shown helping her grandma rake some leaves on the property’s yard. “Sure, rakes are in the garage,” says Grandma Ursula. When Maddie enters the garage, she sees rows and rows of knives. Ursula then leaves saying: “So many knives…”
“So little time,” Bates answers and continues raking as text asks: “What’s grandma hiding?”
In another ad, Maddie tells her grandmother that lunch is ready, but sees that who she thought was Grandma is really a large doll made up to look like her. When Maddie looks outside, she sees Grandma working on the lawn.
Still other spots show Grandma eluding Maddie by activating secret buttons hidden in statues in the house and serving her pies to a group of people who react strongly to her opening the pie box.
The ads might pique the curiosity of people who don't know the game. As of August 16, the game has been downloaded 10 million times and has generated around $40 million for Metacore.
Bates, perhaps most famous for her role in Stephen King’s "Misery," plays Ursula as delightfully creepy senior. If you’re looking for a break from treacly Christmas ads, this is it.