” Social Meets Experimental ” is my number two pick for being the most fascinating 30 minutes of the of the conference.   When Tim  Ellis, the EVP and Global CMO at Activision, took the stage at the Pavilion, I was tempted to take coffee break.  Seemed hypocritical to spend a half an hour listening to tips on selling the virtual killing game once banned from my house because of the violence.  Happy I stayed.

Ellis, who left his mark on innovation while at VW with the early release of the Super Bowl ad turned viral, “The Force,” is now rebooting Activision’s Call of Duty.  His imagination, innovation and ability to turn negative brand feedback into positive made his one most impressive and thought-provoking presentations of the conference.

He was charged with launching Call of Duty Elite, a paid service for their gaming users.  Once early word of the service hit the web, it resulted in a summer-long viral outcry from their fans.  The brand was painfully reading every comment and blog and watching every COD-bashing video about the new Activision ‘rip off.’   While complete details of the program couldn’t be released,  Ellis took the challenge as an opportunity to experiment.  To take a risk.

Activision created a two-day immersive brand event in Los Angeles to launch the Elite program.  It was like COD heaven, complete with live gaming competitions for a $1 million prize, paintball ranges, zip lines, life-size versions of certain game maps and live musical entertainment.

Engagement gone wild.  Social madness and global media attention resulted in $20 million dollars of advertising value to Activision.  Call of Duty XP was the second-most-watched event on Live stream in history –  right after the Royal Wedding.

In a 16 day period, the new subscription service reached 1 billion dollars in sales.

“‘Can experiential media, plus social media, equal mass media?” (Ellis)

Apparently so.