tastemakers leave a bad taste

Viral Marketing for Eidos’ Hitman 2. Of interest:

Avoid looking like a marketing campaign.
Kirby: “These clips are not being judged by TV advertising production values and
aesthetics. In fact, the less they have TV production values and
aesthetics, the better they seem to do. People don’t want to be
part of someone else’s marketing campaign.”

I’m seeing more and more of this kind of practice — and I’m positive that there’s more of it going on that I don’t see. I think it’s downright deceptive. One of the fundamental rules* of advertising is that your target audience should know when they are being advertised to. It’s why there are “this is an advertisement” warnings in newspapers and magazines when some sneaky ads try to make themselves look like news or editorial content. Yet, many marketers continue to believe that such low and unscrupulous plots are the only way to establish a presence, especially with the more media-savvy “underground” generation. Getting people to put advertisements on their tombstones, or to change their names to ‘Turok’ is one thing; but deceptively spamming people with false testimonials and support on public forums is a whole other can of worms. “Tastemaker destinations” indeed.

Of course, the next logical step is to, in essence, sell the actual marketing campaign itself. I’m quite certain that BMX XXX was conceived entirely in Acclaim’s marketing department, and not by any people with actual game knowledge. It’s not like Acclaim hasn’t had run-ins with controversy before, as they are strongly testing the notion that “controversy sells”. BMX XXX was on 60 Minutes last week; it’s been mentioned in countless mainstream articles about gaming; it’s even garnering government attention (with some thanks from GTA). All this despite the fact that it is a mediocre game. It’s sad that the media (and politicians, and advocacy groups) continually falls for such cheap tactics — giving the “game” free publicity. Acclaim isn’t selling a game; they’re selling a campaign.

* I realize that from the standpoint of the advertiser, it’s probably not a golden rule; but from my point of view, the view of a consumer, it might as well should to be.

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