We've come a long way, guys. Video games are no longer just for kids, but are now billion-dollar tentpole events. And creating videos is no longer just for people who can afford the expensive equipment. Freddie Wong is sort of the poster child for self-taught video creators online. His videos routinely go viral, and after a string of other impressive achievements, Wong has now been commissioned by Electronic Arts to create a television commercial for their Battlefield 3 video game.
The First Freddie Wong TV Commercial
That's right... a television commercial. Yes, yes... of course it's online... we'll get to that in a minute. But the intent of the campaign from the get-go was to run it on television. A video game company hiring a do-it-yourselfer director from the Internet to make a television commercial. Crazy, isn't it?
Now, Freddie's already been hired by Cowboys & Aliens director Jon Favreau to create a promo video, and by Samsung to create an online video ad. But to my knowledge, this is the first time Freddie and his team have been hired to specifically create a video ad for TV.
Like most of the companies that have hired Freddie to work for them, EA decided to just let Freddie be Freddie, and gave him all kinds of leeway with the concept and execution. Wong says the ad took 10 days to complete and the only guidance from EA was that they wanted to show off things you can do in Battlefield 3 that no other game lets players do. Here's the result:
So... let's see here... over 3 million views online already in just five days... the commercial only started running on television in the last couple days (managed to see it today). But you know what? The online portion of this video's lifespan has already more than paid for the cost of hiring Freddie. Even the most popular brands in the world would struggle to grab 3 million views in five days... but for Freddie? Piece of cake... he does this kind of thing on a weekly basis. It's really like doubling your audience--the general TV audience that sees the ad normally and the "fans of Freddie" audience that flocks to the clip online.
I think what I like most about Freddie and his team is their intelligence. He's way too savvy for some guy that got famous on YouTube. In a recent Reuters interview, Wong talked about why people should stop asking him when he's going to make a feature film for Hollywood:
"Making a feature film or making a TV show [as] a definition of success, that's out of date... We're looking at where online content is going, where technology is going -- that's an exciting new frontier. We have this chance to carve out what the online world and digital-distribution world could look like, and that's infinitely more interesting."
If Freddie and his friends keep cranking out successes like this one, it won't be long before he can write his own ticket. I, for one, would love to see what that looks like. We keep debating what we should call web series as it becomes a more powerful content variety, but Freddie sounds like he wants to revolutionize entertainment completely--with online video as the centerpiece.