Activision downplays “controversy” surrounding Kobe in Black Ops ad, calls it “very hypocritical”

By Nathan Grayson, Friday, 10 December 2010 08:52 GMT

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A gaggle of guys and gals – including basketball star Kobe Bryant and talk show host Jimmy Kimmel – scratching their increasingly itchy trigger fingers to the tune of “Gimme Shelter” by the Rolling Stones? Who could say “no” to that?

ESPN, apparently.

The gist of their argument? “He’s smiling while wielding an assault rifle in combat while we have troops overseas at this moment doing that same thing for real, in combat,” said ESPN’s Skip Bayless.

Activision Publishing CEO Eric Hirshberg – who, it’s worth noting, previously helped turn Kevin Butler into the face of every single fictional Sony department in non-existence – had a few choice words in response.

“I’m going to put it in air quotes, which you can’t see, but the ‘controversy’ surrounding Kobe Bryant I find very hypocritical. Those same networks that are now questioning Kobe’s inclusion in this had no problem accepting the ad and approving the ad, and accepting the dollars to run the ad on their networks,” he said during an interview with IndustryGamers.

“Are they being irresponsible to their fan base by running the ad on their networks? Because if it’s good for the goose, it’s good for the gander. I find that to be very hypocritical.”

He then dug straight to the heart of the issue, citing a lingering stigma against videogames in general.

“I also think that there’s a little bit of a maturation process going on for video games overall where certain people still don’t see them as mainstream entertainment, but I wonder if Kobe or Jimmy Kimmel had been involved for the marketing of a new Tom Clancy movie if they would have gotten the same response,” he explained.

“I feel like this is still seen by some people as some sort of subculture or niche product, and the performance in the marketplace demonstrates that this is the epicenter of mainstream entertainment.”

Agree or think he’s full of crap, the man does have a point on that “performance” bit. Now, we might be going out on a limb here, but we’re guessing that’s more than enough to qualify this commercial as a slam dunk in Activision’s bulging pocketbook.

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