8 Ways the Call of Duty Endowment Made 2022 a Great Year For Veterans
Through in-game activations, live events, and high-profile partnerships, the Call of Duty Endowment had one of its biggest and most successful years on record
There are two major challenges, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, that face veterans returning to civilian life from active duty: Entering the workforce and finding community outside the military.
So when the Call of Duty Endowment looks back on 2022, it does so knowing that its success means positive impact on these two vital areas of need. The Endowment’s accomplishments are wins for all veterans - and that fact is made even more pronounced given that 2022 was truly a remarkable year.
Promises Made, Promises Kept (And Then Some)
In 2021, the Endowment made a promise to place 100,000 veterans in quality jobs by 2024. In May of 2022, they had already made good on that promise and were on to the next 100,000.
“There will always be more to do, but today I’d like to pause to celebrate an important achievement,” said Activision Blizzard Chief Administrative Officer and distinguished Army veteran Brian Bulatao on the day of the milestone. “The Call of Duty Endowment has placed over 100,000 veterans in quality jobs almost two years ahead of its stated goal. I am equally energized by the high-performance framework that’s been built and tested and will enable us to continue to set our sights higher to better serve our veterans.”
The milestone came in the middle of what turned out to be the best year for economic impact for veterans in the Endowment’s history, with more than $1 billion in first-year salaries gained for veterans placed in 2022.
Call of Duty Veteruns Changed the Game
There have been points of intersection between the Call of Duty Endowment and the Call of Duty game franchise before, but nothing like this in both scale and execution. For the first time ever, the Endowment hosted an in-game charity run accessible to anyone in the world. The beauty of the “Call of Duty Veteruns” event was that it was more than just a fund-raising mission, it rode a wave of positive fan engagement and social media activations that brought a community together for a common goal. The Endowment partnered with Twitter for the event, tracking leaderboards and amplifying veteran gratitude and fan enthusiasm. Additionally, we launched a “myth busting” campaign where the Call of Duty account tweeted myths about veteran employment and the Endowment account responded with the facts.
In the end, the event saw over 137M impressions and Activision Blizzard allocated $1 for every 10 KM run in-game as part of a $1 million total donation to further incentivize players to join the first-of-its-kind in-game charity race. The tried and true charity run will never be the same again.
The Mission Becomes Lore
When Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II was released at the end of 2022, it quickly became one of the biggest entertainment releases of the year – reaching the $1 billion mark in just 10 days. It’s not surprising, then, that the Call of Duty Endowment’s “Protector Pack” became one of the best-selling packs the Endowment has launched yet.
What might be surprising is that the pack centered around a new character called “Hutch,” who represents the first time the Endowment’s mission became a direct part of in-game Call of Duty lore. Hutch’s backstory is that he is a Marine veteran who was placed in a civilian job through the Call of Duty Endowment before deciding to affiliate with the reserves – his presence brings more attention and awareness around the resilience and strength of veterans, something the Endowment always strives to keep top of mind.
When you want to say “thank you” in a big way, it’s hard to top a 30-foot movie screen. To celebrate a year of milestones and high water marks, the Endowment created a public awareness campaign shown in AMC Theatres nationwide (and broadcast during the during the Army vs. Navy football game) thanking veterans for their service while bringing attention to the work being done…and the challenges that still need facing down.
While audiences across the country were settling in to watch tales of fictional heroes, the Endowment took the opportunity to remind them that they meet real heroes every day who continue to serve in every walk of life.
The Endowment was thrilled to participate once again in the NFL’s “My Cause My Cleats” program by helping design a pair of veteran-themed cleats for Los Angeles Rams’ wide receiver Cooper Kupp.
Designed by artist Cestlavic, the cleats tell the story of Coach Mo Streety, a 13-year Air Force veteran who worked on F-16s and other aircraft, and who now leads the Rams Youth Football Development program.
In addition to the cleats themselves, which are being auctioned off this month, limited edition long sleeve shirts with art mirroring the cleats were sold, with additional proceeds going to help support the Endowment.
Recognition for a Job Well Done (And Still Ongoing)
During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, a puzzling statistic came to the Endowment’s attention: Despite the intense need for healthcare workers, 50% of former medics and hospital corpsmen who wanted to work in civilian healthcare could not find jobs in the industry. It was an issue that clearly needed more awareness around it, and the #CODEMEDICALHEROES campaign was started.
The “C.O.D.E. Battle Doc Pack” was introduced as an in-game pack for Call of Duty®: Warzone and Call of Duty®: Black Ops Cold War. The pack was created in collaboration with retired U.S. Army Combat Medic Sgt. 1st Class Timothy “Doc” Hobbs, Jr., himself an avid Call of Duty player whom the Endowment helped place into a high-quality job through one its grantee, Still Serving Veterans. In addition to the in-game pack, there was the “Revival Challenge,” where players who revived five people while playing within Call of Duty®: Warzone would unlock a unique Call of Duty Endowment calling card. One million players completed the challenge and Activision Blizzard donated $1 for each of them to the Endowment’s efforts.
The campaign – buoyed by a #CODEMEDICALHEROES social media push – went on to win seven prestigious awards, bringing more awareness and recognition to the core mission. #CODEMEDICALHEROES was honored with:
2022 PR NEWS Platinum Award in the Media Relations: Non-Profit campaign
2022 Ragan's CSR & Diversity Awards – Best Cause Advocacy Award
2022 Agency Awards – Best Nonprofit Campaign
2022 Bulldog PR Award - Silver award for the Best Not-for-Profit/ Association Campaign
2022 Halo Award – Best Social Services Campaign
2022 Los Angeles Business Journal 2022 Nonprofit & Corporate Citizenship Awards - Most Innovative Awareness Campaign
2021 Streamy Social Good Award – Company or Brand
Bridging the Pond
C.O.D.E. Bowl III was all about community. The esports tournament pitting all branches of the US and UK militaries against one another for bragging rights and some good, healthy, friendly competition was in-person again for the first time since its inaugural event, bringing a renewed sense of excitement and enthusiasm to the proceedings. The Bowl also allowed for some grassroots efforts on behalf of veterans: in addition to the competition itself, the Endowment hosted a job fair for veterans seeking employment, with a professional networking workshop and speaker series tailored to their specific concerns, needs, and challenges re-entering the workforce.
The C.O.D.E. Bowl also marked the first time all the branches of the U.S. and UK military gathered together in one location, which added an extra sense of poignancy as the world celebrated the easing of the COVID pandemic.
To C.O.D.E Bowl and Beyond
Before the games could commence, however, the Call of Duty Endowment had one more unexpected trick up its sleeve to raise awareness…and raise the stakes.
A month prior to C.O.D.E. Bowl III, defending champions from team Space Force delivered the ultimate “come & get it” taunt for its rivals: the The C.O.D.E. Bowl trophy was actually launched into space.
It’s safe to say it’s now gone where no other sports championship trophy has gone before, and it created an aura of excitement around C.O.D.E. Bowl III that raises the bar for the next tournament and beyond.
During C.O.D.E. Bowl III, the Royal Air Force esports team defeated the defending champion Space Force and overcame a strong Air Force Gaming squad with an inspiring comeback performance to secure the UK’s first C.O.D.E. Bowl title. We can’t wait to see where the RAF takes the trophy this year…
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