By Barry Janoff
Ocotber 6, 2015: Lenny Kravitz, best known as a world-renowned rock-funk singer-songwriter-guitar star whose hits include "Are You Gonna Go My Way," "Fly Away" and "American Woman."
Actor James Franco has appeared in such films as Spider-Man (Harry Osborn), 127 Hours and The Interview.
Now they appear together in a new campaign for Guitar Hero Live.
The multi-media effort heralds the first release in the Guitar Hero franchise since Warriors of Rock in 2010.
The campaign is anchored by a 90-second spot, "Win the Crowd," that is as much about the raucous, barb-filled banter between the two as it is about the music, the interaction between user and screen and the video game itself, which is due to hit retail Oct. 20.
According to game publisher Activision, the campaign "sets the stage for the release of Guitar Hero Live, which marks the beginning of a new era in music games and introduces two exciting new ways to play the game: GH Live, in which you play in-front of real crowds who react to your performance; and GHTV, the world’s first playable music video network."
The 90-second spot will be broken into 15- and 30-second ads. Internet, social media and POP also support.
Lead agency is Los Angeles-based 72andSunny.
Kravitz is no stranger to shredding a guitar and performing before a crowd, albeit a video game throng of screaming masses.
Franco has experience in a long-form, eclectic spot to support a video game, having appeared opposite a cast of characters — including his brother Dave — and NFL stars earlier this year to support the release of EA Sports' Madden NFL 16.
“Guitar Hero Live gives you the chance to live out your rock star fantasy in front of a real audience that reacts to how you play, so watching James Franco and Lenny Kravitz challenging each other to win the crowd in the game brought that excitement to life in a really cool way,” Tim Ellis, CMO for Activision Publishing, said in a statement. “Some of the best moments captured on film were purely spontaneous between James and Lenny. They had great chemistry and had a lot of fun with the game. We just let them loose.”
Among the banter between the two, which takes place they seek to outdo each other in Guitar Hero Live mode:
Kravitz playing guitar as the game's virtual crowd appears to be booing him: "Let's pause this."
Franco: "You're going to pause!? When you're at a concert, do you say 'Can I pause?'"
Franco playing guitar: "Oh, come on. Who brings a 'You Suck' poster to a concert?"
Kravitz: "James Franco fans, apparently."
Franco: "Hey, they're still booing."
Kravitz: "Yeah, but you look good."
Kravitz doing a windmill move on the guitar: "See that!"
Franco: "Alright, it's pretty sexy. Just don't split your pants," referring to a incident that happened to Kravitz during a concert.
The spot ends with Franco smashing the guitar and Kravitz applauding his move. text offers: "You Rock. They React." (See the full ad here.)
The trailer features Kravitz’ “Are You Gonna Go My Way,” which will also be playable in the game.
“Some of the best moments were purely spontaneous between James and Lenny. They had great chemistry and fun with the game. We just let them loose.”
The playlist, which Activation said encompasses hundreds of songs, also includes Pearl Jam, Rush, Blink 182, Panic! At the Disco, Cypress Hill featuring Tom Morello, Paramore, Kings of Leon, Kongos, Rage Against the Machine, ZZ Top and Red Hot Chili Peppers. (Full playlist here.)
Guitar Hero Live is described as a "live-action experience that delivers the full emotional roller coaster of being on stage, with players performing in a real band, in front of real crowds, who react in real time to how well or poorly you play."
The game also includes a 24-hour playable music video network that enables people to play along to a continually-updated collection of official videos.
Guitar Hero Live will be available on for PlayStation 3 and 4, Xbox One, Xbox 360 games and the Wii U console and such iOS devices as iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch.
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