Responsible Marketing

A-Rod and Kobe and Phelps, oh my!

By February 20, 2009January 10th, 2021No Comments

It was a risk when Activision cast four of the world’s most recognized athletes to dance in their underwear for a video game that that wasn’t sports-related.

Imagine it: The greatest Olympian of all time (at least by medal count), the best basketball and baseball player today, and the person that has almost single-handedly popularized skateboarding and extreme sports—all in the same ad.


Here’s Activision’s Guitar Hero ad featuring Kobe Bryant, Alex Rodriguez, Michael Phelps and Tony Hawk:

Of course, now the ad features a basketball player accused of rape, an Olympian caught smoking dope and a baseball player that has admitted to using steroids.

For most products, this ad would be pulled immediately. Not so with Activision.

In an interview in the New York Daily News, sports business consultant Marc Ganis said these controversies won’t necessarily hurt sales, stating that “the target market for Guitar Hero is younger counterculture youth for whom this kind of behavior is not considered very negative.”

That raises so many questions, doesn’t it?

Considering the Guitar Hero target, have the A-Rod and Phelps revelations actually helped Activision?

Do you believe the associated PR is hurting or helping?

Is Activision marketing responsibly?

How should they respond?

Comment below to weigh in.

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