Verizon: The Unbreakable Controller

TV Commercial Review

Heart or Humor


A troll marketing campaign can be effective when is done well, but incredibly risky when something goes wrong. According to the Urban Dictionary, trolling is the art of deliberately, cleverly, and secretly pissing people off, usually via the internet, using dialogue.

McCann Worldgroup creates a successful troll marketing advert for Verizon named “Unbreakable Controller.” The target audience is Gen Z. Generation Z is the demographic cohort succeeding Millennials and preceding Generation Alpha. Gen Z has the mid-to-late 1990s as starting birth years and the early 2010s as ending birth years.

The campaign promotes Verizon Fios and wants to show gamers that the Fios network can be the solution to lag frustrations, and that simply switching to Fios could help them step up their game. So, Verizon Fios is getting their attention in the most gamer way possible: by trolling them… with a controller that’s unbreakable. [Created to handle typical gamer tantrums, but not literally unbreakable.]

The story is that in the world of video games, nothing is worse than internet lag. And when gamers lag, they tend to take their frustration out on the first thing that’s closest to them: their controller. Just a quick search of YouTube will turn up hundreds of videos that show gamers throwing, kicking, and stomping on their controllers to soothe their anger.

The campaign gets the Unbreakable Controller into the hands of one of the gaming world’s biggest influencers, Nate Hill of FaZe Clan. Naturally, he’s using it to troll his fellow teammates that don’t have Fios, by challenging them to test its durability through a series of hilarious challenges, like hitting it with a bat, dunking it like a basketball, and throwing it off a balcony. Each test will show that even though the controller is incredibly strong, there’s still no substitute for better internet and that FaZe Clan really just needs Verizon Fios.

Unbreakable Controller

And this controller? It’s definitely no prop. We went through the process of having it made for real by partnering with product designer Steven Brower of Brower Propulsion Laboratory. He created a bespoke video game controller that can withstand the frustrations of laggy gamers. Taking inspiration from the diabolical ironclad beetle, the controller was constructed with a durable, aluminum shell and then surrounded by a soft foam that cushions the shell from impact. Its bright orange color was intentionally chosen to reflect the humorous nature of the product and the childish anger gamers show when they lag out.

But the campaign doesn’t stop with a controller and a troll job, we’re also engaging gamers at some of their most frequented websites like Kotaku, with a deep dive editorial about the Unbreakable Controller, along with high impact digital placements. We’re even taking it beyond the gaming community by partnering with influencers like tech reviewers and content creators. Each one is receiving the controller along with a challenge to put it to the test in their own unique way and share the results with their fans.

And at the end of the day, all of this could’ve been avoided if gamers across the country had simply chosen Fios from the get-go. But until then, it’s up to us to remind laggy gamers everywhere… it’s this or Fios.

Advertising Agency: McCann Worldgroup , New York, United States of America
SVP, Chief Creative Officer, Verizon: Andrew McKechnie
VP, Marketing Communications, Verizon: David Bowen
Director, Marketing Communications, Verizon: Colby Schneider
Manager, Brand Creative, Verizon: Olga Bermudez Paiva
Manager, Broadcast Production, Verizon: Emily Plunkett Fleischer
Co-Chief Creative Officer, McCann North America: Thomas Murphy
Co-Chief Creative Officer, McCann North America: Sean Bryan
EVP, Deputy Chief Creative Officer, McCann NY: Matthew Curry
SVP Executive Creative Director, McCann NY: Cristina Reina
VP, Group Creative Director, McCann NY: Alex Little
SVP, Group Creative Director, McCann NY: Karsten Jurkschat
Associate Creative Director, McCann NY: Rene Delgado
Associate Creative Director, McCann NY: Colby Spear
Copywriter, McCann NY: Lerthon Theuma
Art Director, McCann NY: Joan Heo
Copywriter, McCann NY: LeAndra Langhorne
Art Director, McCann NY: Erika Casales
EVP Executive Strategy Director, McCann NY: David Webster
SVP Executive Strategy Director, McCann NY: Jennifer Peterson
Senior Strategist, McCann NY: Beth Windheuser
VP Strategy Director Social And Mobile, McCann NY: Whitney Alexander
Chief Production Officer, McCann NY: Nathy Aviram
SVP Executive Producer, McCann NY: John McAdorey
Producer, McCann NY: Brian Collins
Producer, McCann NY: Laura Kellerman
Senior Innovation Producer, McCann NY: Jeannette Subero
SVP Director Of Innovation, McCann NY: Christine Lane
Senior Innovation Producer, McCann NY: Amber Briscoe
Senior Innovation Producer, McCann NY: Mihae Mukaida
Project Management Director, McCann NY: Anne Denny
Associate Project Manager, McCann NY: Holly McNally
Project Manager, McCann NY: Eliza Butts
Digital Producer, CRAFT: Theodore McFail
Tech Lead Display Ads, CRAFT: David Lillis
Executive Digital Producer, CRAFT: Rich Goldstein
Senior QA Engineer, CRAFT: Faiza Islam
QA Engineer, CRAFT: Puneet Oberoi
Senior Developer, CRAFT: Jeffery Feder
QA Engineer, CRAFT: Joseph Goldstein
Junior Business Manager, McCann: Anna Owens
Editor, No6 Editorial & Finishing: Ryan Bukowski
Assistant Editor, No6 Editorial & Finishing: Alyce Muhammad
Producer, No6 Editorial & Finishing: Charlotte Delon
Head Of Production, No6 Editorial & Finishing: Laura Molinaro
Executive Producer, No6 Editorial & Finishing: Corina Dennison
Senior Flame Artist, No6 Editorial & Finishing: Ed Skupeen
Finishing Producer, No6 Editorial & Finishing: Mark Reyes
Mix Engineer, Sonic Union: Brian Goodheart
Producer, Sonic Union: Nathanael Taylor
Studio Director, Sonic Union: Justine Cortale
Founder, Brower Propulsion Laboratory R&D: Steven Brower
Photographer, Giant Artists: Jessica Pettway
Agent, Giant Artists: Dana Eudy
Producer, Giant Artists: Lynda Goldstein
BTS Video Production, Videographer, MMXX: David Siev
Media Agency: VM1
Influencer Agency: Captiv8
Packaging Production: Utley’s
Talent Partner: FaZe Clan
Branded Content: Kotaku

Troll marketing


Good troll marketing

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