Riot Games came to us with an exciting premise: Lil Nas X would serve as “President of League of Legends” to promote his performance at the opening ceremony of the 2022 League of Legends World Championships. The Worlds Opening Ceremony is the Super Bowl Halftime Show of e-sports, and this was their largest celebrity partnership to date. It also represented a big departure for a brand famous for generating its own extensive IP. The question was: how could we get Riot’s notoriously picky fanbase to accept Lil Nas X as one of their own, while also bringing Lil Nas X’s existing fanbase into the fold?
We approached this challenge by looking to highlight synergies between Lil Nas X and League of Legends. Lil Nas X isn’t a gamer, so we had no pre-existing context to illuminate. Instead, we had to look at the upcoming campaign itself to predict what moments would speak most to Riot die-hards and Lil Nas X fans.
The campaign was set to begin with an introductory skit, in which Lil Nas X announced himself as “the new president of League of Legends”, and introduced his new song, Star Walkin’, as the year’s Worlds Anthem. Lil Nas X mixed his raunchy humor with League of Legends Lore to hilarious effect, but there was still the risk that fans could label him as an outsider and decry Riot for making a disingenuous campaign. There was also the risk that Lil Nas X fans would reject a sanitized portrayal of the bombastic star.
We eventually zeroed in on one joke in the skit as our opportunity to unite both fan bases, Lil Nas X’s demand for a new character skin for Udyr: "Bill, look. You’re not understanding me, I said Nudyr; like Udyr, but in the nude. Just put some pixel-blur over his junk and it’ll be the best-selling skin of all time.". The joke was the perfect blend of Riot IP and Lil Nas X’s bawdy humor, and the question then became how we could activate around this moment. The answer was apparent to the naked eye: we had to give the fans Nudyr.
We went to Riot with our vision, and they were able to furnish us with a nude character rendering of Udyr. The rendering was built in 3D modeling software, and the program’s background was still visible in the images we were given. Rather than creating a glossy backdrop, we realized the existing background added an extra layer of authenticity. But we still had to make sure that the image would feel tied directly into the campaign. Once again, we took our guidance from the skit itself and added oversized pixel blur to his rear, front, and chest for maximum comedic effect. Thus, Nudyr was born, marking Riot and Lil Nas X’s partnership as one made for Riot fans that could also speak to fans of pop culture all over the world.
The reactive post garnered 8,260 Retweets, 2,136 Quote Tweets, and 70.1K Likes. This post ignited the start of the campaign with a host of attention that was sustained up until the Opening Ceremony performance. Fan sentiment was extremely positive and ended up generating coverage from many video game news outlets. Dexerto ran an article titled: “Lil Nas X ‘Nudyr’ LoL skin has massive fan support”. Other outlets, including PCGamesN and The Mary Sue wrote similarly effusive articles highlighting excitement over Nudyr, and the campaign ahead.