How Call of Duty Found Its Groove With Banda Music in Latin America

Someone please make a Venn diagram

One thing we've always liked about Activision's Call of Duty—now ancient, as gaming franchises go, being 20 years old this year—is how its advertising unfailingly invests us in the mythology of heroic leaders, and teams that feel bigger than the sum of their parts. It has kept doing this even as its universe expanded, which ain't easy: A futuristic space setting, like that of Infinite Warfare, has dramatically different emotional stakes from earlier games set in World War II.

But hell, they manage it.

COD's latest by Mexican agency Archer Troy is no different. You get the romance of heroes, the overpowering love of a team. Yet it contributes to the IP's gaming and advertising universes in ways that are fresh and surprising.

For the launch of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II, and for the Latin American market, the agency and brand worked with Banda MS—a band that plays banda-style music—to create "Corrido of Duty." Corrido is a musical genre of narrative ballads that romanticize stories of oppression, outlaw life and other underdog themes. The result is a corrido, played in the banda style, for the game's 141 task force, which in Call of Duty lore represents the "best handpicked group of warriors on the planet."

"Two industries that previously seemed impossible to mix, banda music and the world of gaming, come together in one voice through an unprecedented collaboration," says Mike Arciniega, creative vice president and founder of Archer Troy. "The most influential regional Mexican band of the moment and one of the most popular video games in the world become one under a song in Spanish, more Mexican than ever and that we are sure everyone will sing while enjoying the game."

The campaign launched ahead of the game's drop late last year in Latin America, supported by the music video above and a Spotify release complete with lyrics. The video's packed with easter eggs that reference aspects of the new game, like maps, new characters and clues to challenges.

Stylistically, it does serious justice to Banda MS and Call of Duty, whose fan bases collide in a Venn diagram we can't even begin to imagine. You get the full brassy impact of banda and the relatable romance of the corrido style, wonderfully contrasted with what you see onscreen: It's gritty, being a warrior. What makes it an adventure worth having are the people you're with and the vision that drives you … not glamour, which is clearly in short supply.

"With a portion of the single player campaign set in Mexico, we knew that we had a unique opportunity in Mexico and the Hispanic market with Modern Warfare II," explains Rodrigo Pérez, Call of Duty's senior brand manager in Latin America. "It has been exciting creating something special for the fans of Call of Duty and Banda MS, that we have never done before."

In the months since launch, the campaign has bled into the international market, transforming the 141 corrido into an anthem whose galvanizing quality hits hard throughout the single player portion: It's heard at critical moments in gameplay.

"Corrida of Duty" will be representing the franchise in upcoming award shows throughout the year. The video has been viewed over 39 million times, making it one of the most-viewed videos in COD history; on Spotify, it's been played 17 million times.

Nice work here by Archer Troy, which in the last few years rapidly became one of the most competitive independent agencies in Mexico, judging by the number of awards it has racked up. We look forward to seeing what else it's got up its sleeve.

Angela Natividad
Angela Natividad is the European markets editor at Muse by Clio. She also writes about gaming and fashion, and whatever else she's interested in, really. She's based in Paris and North Italy, so if you're local, say hi. She might eat all your food.

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