What are Public Relations? It can be a rather broad term, but Wikipedia defines it as: “the practice of managing the flow of information between an organization and its publics.” Most of us would define it as ‘hyping up a game’. As games have gotten more and more sophisticated, so too have the methods of promoting a game and making the public aware of it’s presence. This week, I’m going to be taking a look at some of the more… ‘interesting’ methods that various game companies have used to promote brand awareness. Some ideas are awesome, while some leave you thinking what exactly was going through the mind of the Marketing people that day?
Such A Pussy
F.E.A.R was a scary game. Filled with unimaginable horrors, some awesome slo-mo kung fu action, a scary nine year old girl along more blood and guts than an episode of CSI: The Jack the Ripper Years. What it did definitely did not feature in any way, shape or form was cats. This didn’t stop the crazy people at Mischief from coming up with an interesting feline based promotion of the sequel; F.E.A.R 2 Project Origin. Deciding to go on a distinctly more superstitious note, they enlisted the services of several well trained black cats to prowl the streets of London wearing the game’s logo emblazoned upon little kitty jackets on a Friday 13th. It certainly got them noticed, but they came off more cute than terrifying. Unless you were a mouse, I suppose.
Thou Shalt Play Sims
Again, Mischief were making… er… mischief by being behind this one. Along with EA, they commissioned a survey asking a thousand people to rewrite the ten commandments. Risking the wrath of right wing Christians everywhere, they then had the ten new commandments inscribed on a pair of tablets and sent a man dressed as Moses to deliver them to the House of Parliament. Of course, it too made it into the papers, where it was revealed that only a quarter of the 11 to 16 year olds surveyed understood the traditional wording of many of the commandments, but they did decide that acts of terrorism were bad, sensibly enough. And which game was all this in aid of? Why, the famous life simulator The Sims 3 of course, which lets you ‘play god’ with various virtual people.
Message in a Bottle
Of course, games that are yet to come out are also doing the weird promotional stunts and Bioshock 2 is no exception. The highly anticipated game has had it’s Something in The Sea website running for several months now, and even it’s recent delay couldn’t put a stop to some promotional shenanigans going on. Sending out letters and emails to various outlets, fans were given the locations of several beaches that they were to gather at a certain point to get more information at dawn on a certain date. Those who could be bothered to get up early enough – or indeed went without sleep – might have expected to see a Big Daddy or Little Sister come to really make a splash with the marketing campaign for the game. Unfortunately, people turned up to see some bottles washed ashore from the game’s fictional location of Rapture. Still, some exclusive posters were also contained within as reward, but some people left feeling the whole thing was a bit of a washout. Geddit?
In the end though, it’s not fair to say that these were failed campaigns. Far from it, they certainly got people talking about the game. No matter how outlandish or slightly dubious the connection to the game is, it certainly helps encourage brand awareness. However, the results are not always positive as demonstrated by the outcry when EA decided to give away free petrol or the furore with the infamous Dante’s Inferno Lust competition, and both the safety and moral concerns of THQs Red Faction ‘Smash a Car’ promo. But it’s at least interesting – and occasionally entertaining – to see what marketing companies will come up with next to promote their game. Heck – some promotions may end up being more entertaining than the games themselves. As long as they think about what they’re doing.
Feel free to discuss these or any of your favourite promotions or ideas for them in the comments. You never know, we may send Craig out to a football field covered in nothing but a pair of Gaming Daily underpants…
…or perhaps not.