How Activision’s community got in a lather for Soap Codes
Mark Foster, UK Senior Editor, explains how an engagement-driving post for Activision took on a life of its own — and lit up the Call of Duty community on X (formally Twitter).
Sometimes the simplest of client requests can have the biggest impact on social. Our mission from Activision was to create positive sentiment around Call of Duty to boost game engagement.
As custodians of the Call of Duty community, we were tasked with actioning a rollout plan for an in-game weapon charm that Activision wanted to give to their players as a limited edition treat.
Releasing codes that players can use to download cosmetic items is nothing new. Type a code into the game, and the item will appear on your weapon – a little like a keyring (if your keys were a computer-generated Assault Rifle…). But this particular weapon charm was different. It was tied to the game’s fan-favourite character John ‘Soap’ MacTavish (the 12th most popular video game character of all time). With its charming winky face, shorts and mohican haircut fashioned stylishly out of suds, the cutesy cartoon emblem mirrored the character’s cheeky persona.
The brief? No budget. No production. No paid media. Our client didn’t want anything too complex, they just wanted us to make people aware of the weapon charm without going in too hard.
So, we devised an engagement-led rollout on Twitter to reveal the in-game cosmetic item and the ‘Soap’ codes needed to download it. We announced that there was a “Mystery Item incoming” alongside an illustration of a wall of bubbles. Our followers had to team up as a community by replying to the post with soap emojis 🧼. The more 🧼 they bombarded us with, the more we rewarded them by posting follow-up images in which the bubbles floated away, revealing the Soap mascot. Finally, we dropped a bunch of codes for players to enjoy.
As the first post went out, we were immediately inundated with hundreds and then thousands of soap emojis as followers clamoured to reveal the item and their chance to unlock it. Once the dust had settled, and our final batch of codes released, we thought that would be the end of it – but it was only the beginning!
Every social media update we posted was bombarded with commenters asking for a Soap Code — “When are more codes coming?”, “Can I have a Soap Code?”, “Admin please, you don’t understand, I NEED one!”.
This is where Neil Ellice, the voice and motion actor for John ‘Soap’ MacTavish, came in. He’d seen the outpouring of love for the charms and wanted to get involved with the giveaway – so we built a second phase of the rollout with Neil who recorded himself in character announcing more codes. His post received 21k comments and 3 million impressions – all organically.
🔊 MacTavish has a message for you…— Call of Duty UK (@CallofDutyUK) December 19, 2022
Drop a 🧼 emoji in the replies below and we’ll dish out some more Soap Charm codes to some lucky people via DM. pic.twitter.com/scdsZktjtP
This time, the comments were in the tens of thousands. Word had spread that more codes were coming, and people wanted in on the action. Suddenly a black market had sprung up, with fans selling Soap Codes on eBay, Reddit threads dedicated to people asking for trades, and influencers rushing to create content around the Codes as the ultimate, unobtainable item.
The result was a huge uptick in brand sentiment, with audiences actively calling out how much they love the Call of Duty accounts. A great result from a simple execution that has the community at its heart.