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Marketing for a video game can be a tricky business, especially if there’s something happening with the world that companies have to tiptoe around so that it has no correlation with its product. Chris Bruzzo, the chief marketing officer who hopped on board Electronic Arts last year from Starbucks, knows this well, and explained in an interview with GamesIndustry International how, in a way, traditional marketing has “come apart.”

One example of this was the marketing with this year’s earlier release Battlefield: Hardline, which was coming out on the heels of the Ferguson incident, where a white police officer shot an unarmed black 18-year old. “We were very sensitive to that,” Bruzzo said. “We spent time to make sure we understood what was happening in the environment. But while being sensitive to not wanting to draw on that or capitalize on it in any way, we also really came to the conclusion that most entertainment companies have to come to, which is that entertainment is a different part of the human experience. And while it might instruct us on things that are happening in other parts of our lives, it exists to entertain. Just like TV shows or movies that are a long time in production, those stories about crime, or difficult experiences in the world, those are going to continue to be important stories that people love to engage in. We don’t actually suggest there’s much about Battlefield: Hardline that has a lot of relevancy to things that are happening in Ferguson or places like that.”

There are situations where cultural relevancy can be used with advertising games, such as with the recently announced Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst, which will debut next year. While the game didn’t exactly make big bucks for EA, it has been fondly appreciated by fans. “When I think about how to invite people into the story, I really encourage our teams to start in a really positive place,” Bruzzo said. “That means asking, ‘What’s great about Mirror’s Edge What made it great the first time What are we carrying through, and how is it contemporary now ‘ Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst has its own story to tell, and it’s updated. It’s touching on themes that are pretty relevant today. That opening line in the trailer — ‘What does it mean to freely give away your privacy ‘ — couldn’t be more at the center of our digitally engaged everywhere experience that we’re having today.”

EA has also been careful with the advertising of the forthcoming sports game FIFA 16, concentrating more on the sports action and less on the recent scandals surrounding the league. “For us, we’re very focused on the game, and on the experience we’re creating for players in the game,” Bruzzo said. “That’s true in the case of Battlefield Hardline, and absolutely true in the case of FIFA. How do we bring the actual sport the athletes play to life in a way that connects with people ” (Side note: EA took a similar stance alongside its then golfing partner Tiger Woods, amidst certain controversies surround him. The two have since broken apart, and Rory McIlroy has been signed as the cover star of the new golf game, Rory McIlroy PGA Tour, which hits store shelves today.)

But according to Bruzzo, the whole “it’s in the game” mantra of sports titles is something that customers have been connecting to more, focusing more on the sports action than what happens off the field. “If you ask young people who play Madden NFL today, a lot of them don’t know who John Madden is,” Bruzzo said. “That’s a crystal clear example where the game has completely transcended where it started and the personality of Madden. The same is true for FIFA. If you ask people who play FIFA 15 this year, when you say FIFA to them, they’re as likely to be talking about the [video] game. So I do think consumers understand the fiction here. And it’s part of the authenticity of the entertainment. We’re going to create this fictionalized environment and you’re going to get to pay. And that’s pretty fundamentally different. It is challenging though when you pick a single endorser. That does make things a little more challenging. And yet, at times it’s totally the right thing to do because it helps to bring authenticity to the game.”

Tying back in to marketing, Bruzzo explains that he’s seen a lot of changes, mainly with the time he was vice president of marketing and public relations for Amazon, as well as serving as Starbucks’ digital strategy expert. “It’s amazing,” Bruzzo said. “‘What is marketing ‘ is really an open question today. I kind of feel that marketing has come apart. It is no longer a brand with some propaganda pushing a message one way to a target audience. In many ways, it really has been coming apart for a while. It includes direct engagement with players and customers through social channels. It includes analytics. It continues to include creative. But today, the nature of marketing has come apart so it can get closer to the end recipient, the player and the product. And as a result, we can have a much more iterative relationship, a dialogue, even as games are being made.”

However, strides are being made with certain campaigns for games, like the more personable approach taken with last year’s Madden NFL 15, featuring a viral campaign with stars Kevin Hart and Dave Franco. “There are things about how you market that game that are fundamentally different than how you’d market a Battlefield or a Battlefront,” Bruzzo said. “In this industry, we have these long lead times, and for a lot of good reasons, players want to deconstruct what the game’s going to be and do a lot of comparisons. How many maps How many modes How many hours of play I think it’s fascinating that in the discussion about and reaction to Unravel, nobody’s asking any of those questions. It’s fundamentally a different construct. It’s another kind of story that doesn’t fall into the same [category].”

You can read the full interview here.