Modern News, Brand Integration, …. and Warfare


Written by on Thursday, September 18, 2014

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A recent video on Call of Duty’s Youtube channel brought together Vice Media, increasingly known around the world for their Gen Y-friendly “gonzo” style investigative journalism, and the video game brand for a news piece about the current state of private military organisations. Here are some shocking numbers from the story to show you what I’m talking about: As of March 13, 2013 62% of the military personnel in Afghanistan were private mercenaries, in the 10 years following 9/11 the US Government spent US$3.3 Trillion in private defense contracts, and the 3rd largest organisation in the world, G4S, is a private military organisation.

This video is truly a piece of news. It exposes the growing number of private military organisations and personnel taking part in today’s many World conflicts but it also acts as a promotional video for Call Of Duty’s new game, Advanced Warfare, which takes place in such a privatised conflict.

While it’s commonplace for Vice’s videos to be supported by a brand, they are usually more documentary than news in nature, e.g. any of the future focused videos on The Creators Project channel are brought to you by Intel. So this video is new ground for Vice and a possible sign of what’s to come in the world of brand integration. It’s enlightening, definitely newsworthy, and, most importantly for the brand, fits with Call Of Duty’s recent release, Advanced Warfare. It’s actual news but it also strongly promotes their new game by informing the viewers of its subject matter.

Could we see a rise in brand integration for news stories like this? Is this a way to force news down the throats of millennials looking to watch promo videos about much anticipated products? Can this work if it’s all out in the open and certain brand messages align with the journalistic stories being told?

…and finally, Is it News? Is it an Ad? Can it be both? These are all questions I’ve heard a lot of people asking in relation to the video and the fact of the matter is I don’t think there is a clear answer here.

Also you should check out the Call Of Duty: Advanced Warfare trailer featuring Kevin Spacey in a role very reminiscent of his vindictive, manipulative, and world dominating Frank Underwood from House of Cards.

About the author

Malcolm is an online media entrepreneur (co-founder of mobile music service Clerkd), copywriter and lover of tacos, whiskey, music, & TV. He was born in Dublin, grew up in Sydney & now resides in sunny Helsinki.