Game company Ubisoft has been getting a lot of attention for its viral marketing stunts lately, one of which involved taking real people–or actors pretending to be real people–and tricking them into believing that a new app a cell phone repair shop had put on their smartphone allowed them to cause car crashes and blow open ATMs. This week, though, the stunt didn’t just involve actors pretending to be police–it involved an actual bomb squad being sent to an office to open a package the company had sent to a journalist in Australia.
Ninemsn, a news organization based out of Sydney, received a black, safe-like box at its office with a note attached warning them to “check their voicemail.” The reporter to whom it was addressed wasn’t a voicemail user, and when the staff attempted to open the package, it began to beep. Thinking that cryptic notes, bizarre deliveries, and beeping industrial packages were not a recipe for a safe Tuesday at the office, the staff called the bomb squad and had their floor evacuated.
Alas, when police arrived and carefully opened the package, they found no ticking explosives–merely a copy of Watch Dogs, which was presumably doubly unexpected to the newsroom, given that Ninemsn doesn’t cover games. Publisher Hal Crawford blamed a PR company that “no doubt got carried away with their creativity,” which is a gentle way of putting it. It’s probably good news that Watch Dogs is on shelves now and is likely to generate fewer PR stunts in the days and weeks to come. Whether or not the Watch Dogs team intended for this “misunderstanding” to happen, the ante-upping on marketing stunts these days is not what we’d call a healthy trend–someone is bound to actually get hurt.