Mariah Carey — pop icon, imperfect angel, elusive chanteuse — is replacing model Kate Upton as the public face of Game of War: Fire Age, according to TMZ. Carey's commitment includes a seven-figure pay check; a 30-second commercial filmed by Alan Taylor, the director of Thor: The Dark World and the upcoming Terminator Genisys; and the use of her music in future promotional material.
Upton was the centerpiece of a $40 million advertising campaign launched by the mobile strategy game's developer, Machine Zone, and she made her way into the game itself as the model for its de facto mascot, the goddess Athena. The sheer size of the game's ad budget is dumbfounding at first glance, but it's justified by its status as one of the highest-grossing apps across several platforms. A Bloomberg Business feature published in March noted Game of War: Fire Age hauls in more than $1 million in revenue every day. That's the kind of tremendous cash flow that convinces one of the most successful vocalists in musical history to serve as pitch-woman for a free-to-play fantasy builder on smartphones around the world. Carey's trafficked in "fantasy" before, of course, but never quite like this.
Carey's trafficked in "fantasy" before, of course, but never quite like this
Her decision to sign on with Game of War: Fire Age comes at a point in her career where she's having more trouble than ever achieving the level of dominance she made look easy 20 years ago. Recent releases like last year's strong LP Me. I Am Mariah... The Elusive Chanteuse and compilation promo single "Infinity" have failed to impact the charts in any significant way, and Carey's been forced to turn to unorthodox gimmickry — partnerships with Match.com, an ongoing stint at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas — to grab headlines.
If her work with Game of War: Fire Age is as widely and relentlessly aired as Upton's, it could grant her a level of visibility she hasn't enjoyed for a long time. And she's no stranger to playing a character: she's brought self-awareness and good humor to decadent, demanding diva-hood for well over a decade. I can't help but wonder which of her hits is going to end up being used to promote the game. Maybe she can take a cue from Upton's infamous tagline — "Will you be my hero?" — and find something fitting in her back catalog.