Activision and AKQA “Hack” Instagram for Call of Duty Fans

To create Mission Zero, a choose-your-own-adventure-style Instagram campaign promoting the release of Call of Duty Advanced Warfare, developers from Activision and AKQA manipulated the way photos appear to create an interactive story for fans of the video game, bringing engagement on the platform to a new level.

Mission Zero uses Instagram’s tagging feature to take users through a photo story that previews new features of the game. Instead of tagging friends in the photos, Mission Zero tags options for action in the story such as “take to the streets” or “take to the rooftops.” Users tap an option, which keeps the story going in a new image.


Activision felt it was essential to give fans a story rather than a product pitch, and Instagram, with its focus on images, felt like the right way to tell a story, says Stephen Clements, executive creative director of AKQA.

“The idea is essentially a prequel to the trailer and precedes the game,” Clements says. “Instagram just felt like the right tool because it’s a great way to tell a story visually. Instagram is a great storytelling device, and the fact that you can connect different Instagram pages together allows us to create that interactive choose-your-own-adventure construct for people to follow.”

Mission Zero disregards desktop and focuses completely on mobile. On desktop, users are unable to tap the tags that lead to the next screen; instead, actions are listed in the photo captions, which takes some of the excitement out of the experience. Clements says that the brand “strives to be first in creating experiences that are best for mobile” because Call of Duty fans live on mobile and search for content there.

Fans can earn points in the game for connecting the game to their social accounts, but Call of Duty’s 350,000 Instagram followers won’t receive incentive to participate in Mission Zero. E.B. Davis, associate creative director at AKQA, says engaging interactive content that manipulates Instagram to tell a story is incentive enough.

“The prize is the experience,” Davis says. “People are enjoying it for the pure experience of what it is: hacking Instagram and making something cool.”

Homepage image via Shutterstock.

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