Creative agency Funworks has partnered with Ubisoft® for a series of unconventional episodic shorts for the upcoming video game Assassin's Creed® Valhalla. Starring comedic actor Brett Gelman (Fleabag, Stranger Things) as an unkempt self-help guru, and breakout TikTok star Caitlin Reilly, the long-form videos depict a campsite seminar drawing on lessons from the game to help skeptical attendees unleash their inner Viking and inform viewers about Assassin’s Creed Valhalla’s features. 

The videos are broken into three chapters, each teaching a small crew of comedic characters how, by playing Assassin's Creed Valhalla and learning about the new gameplay features, they can become more assertive and fulfilled. In one video, Gelman helps a timid woman stand up to her bullying barista. In another, he takes a disgruntled saleswoman on an exhilarating in-game raid that empowers her to confront her overbearing manager. Bad Viking tattoos and vengeful crows underscore an absurd world where psychedelic Viking drinks lead to heartfelt campfire confessions and battles with Norse gods. Cleverly woven throughout are not only scenes of the gameplay but information on new game features, characters and plotlines.

For Funworks and Ubisoft, promoting the game presented an interesting challenge. “Assassin's Creed Valhalla is quite different from any other version in the series because of its all-new dual-wielding combat system, largest variety of enemies ever seen in an Assassin’s Creed game, and massive Viking raids. You can even take hallucinogens and go on spiritual journeys like the Vikings did,” explains Funworks CCO Craig Mangan. “As a result, they needed to educate past fans of the series, as well as highlight its amazing storyline and incredible art.”

As in the past, the agency turned to their signature Funworkshops for a solution -- utilizing a process that brings together customers, brand marketers and comedians, all following scientifically-supported methods of opening creative pathways by generating energy and excitement in an environment conducive to surprise and laughter. “We focused on the traditional ways groups of people learn other than in a classroom, breaking off into groups to come up with a ton of different alternatives,” adds Mangan. “Eventually we landed on the idea for a Tony Robbins-type, life seminar. We just thought the idea of a guru who taught life lessons he learned from a video game was so outlandish, yet feasible in this day and age, that gamers would find it funny.”

Additional challenges arose because of the pandemic, which forced the agency and production teams to get creative to successfully maintain safe social distancing for the crew and the actors during the shoot.  However, the effort paid off, resulting in a fun introduction to the new world of Assassin's Creed.

For Ubisoft and Funworks, the long-form, episodic format continues to be an effective way to engage with gamers. “Gamers are used to watching long-form trailers anyway, but when you add comedy and a real storyline, they can form deeper attachments to the game than just from watching gameplay or cutscenes. With the right mix of plot, characters and humor, you can educate audiences without them even realizing it.”

Ultimately, this newest series not only represents a continuation of a growing partnership with Ubisoft, but a model for more collaborations in the future. “We work so well with their teams that we align and get things moving much faster than a lot of the other agencies,” continues Mangan. “We land the plane faster and better. And comedy is only the beginning. It’s a process that can work across genres and titles to create content that really drives better engagement. The best is yet to come.”