|PR Firm: Buy This Game or Kitty Here Gets It
By: Shawn Paul Wood
Meet Reverb Communications.
This is a boutique agency that focuses on gaming promotions and publications. I know, niche audience. That said, you can imagine it's difficult for a PR firm that does nothing but try to differentiate their client's role playing games from another similar role playing games. Good times, right? So, here's Reverb sitting around their video game controller-shaped conference table thinking about a way to think outside the Xbox. And here's what they discovered in that digital thought bubble of theirs — no, it wasn't a brainstorm, more like a slight drizzle.
Reverb decided to title a press release, "Vote Edge of Space Through Greenlight and Save Some Kitties." Sweet. Innocent. And charitable. What's wrong with that? CSR campaigns are certainly important in today's new economy. But wait, there's more because saving kittens wasn't enough. Reverb wanted to make sure you knew that you would be responsible for killing them too. This from their now infamous press release:
If Edge of Space is approved by October 15, 2012 through Greenlight, Reverb Publishing will donate $5000 to the Humane Society, which will go towards providing necessary care and safety to homeless cats. However, if the game doesn’t get approval, that money will disappear, like a puff of smoke in the uncaring wind, leaving poor kitties to survive in the harsh elements, be placed in harm’s way and possibly scheduled for euthanasia. The challenge is out there, and for a simple “yes” vote on Steam’s Greenlight consumers can actively take a role in saving the lives of kitties. So, do your part, save some cats, and see a great space sandbox adventure get onto Steam’s platform. It’s a win-win!
Well, at least the press release ended with a smiley face. As we are still in the days of Free Enterprise, every company deserves a free shake to catch some REMs and reach for the American Dream. And, if you are not successful, why not...kill the kitties. I believe that's a rally cry for PETA somewhere. What's odd is that this game
looks like it could suck. There's is no vile zombie apocalypse, mass genocide, or a cozy how-to lesson on random acts of street violence. No, they threatened cats, and liken it to Jerry Sandusky in prison — even the inmates despise that dude. Likewise, it seems that gamers stuck in their mom's basement surrounded by "Lord of the Rings" have a sweet spot for our furry feline friends. With cat-like reflexes, Reverb crafted an apology after their phone lines filled with people cussing them out in Klingon:
Hey everyone! There has been a misunderstanding on the marketing side of Edge of Space. We do not support guilt voting in any way and our sincere apologies go out to anyone who felt that way. This was meant in fun, if anything, Reverb’s intent was to add a bonus; if we can make it to the top 10 by the 15th, we will help out a worthy cause. Understand that there is some dark humor in the game and they wanted to play off of that. We love CATS!!! That’s why we have them in our game to begin with! We have sugar bears too!!! So we like exotics.
And they like to not get their message all jacked up. Reverb was just kidding and they planned to donate $5,000 to the Humane Society anyway. Of course, that message was diluted with the overwhelming angst there was out there now. Reverb was trying to raise awareness and help a game get greenlighted. They just got carried away, right? They even commented about it:
“The release was meant to grab attention and call readers to action, but we regret if we made anyone uncomfortable or angry with its content. Millions of stray cats enter shelters each year, with the yearly cost of humane shelters resting in the billions. Our wording may have been muddled, but our intentions are good.”
A tip? Reverb, leave the marketing promotions to the pros and stick to the gaming underworld. I'm sure those intentions were good, guys. No worries. You're sweet kids. Heck, in a stroke of irony, they will probably end up on an episode of "Hoarders" with 17 cats in their house anyway (somewhere).
Shawn Paul Wood has been a committed flack for more than a decade and is currently an Account Director at HCK2 Partners in Dallas, Texas. Prior to his diverse experience in public relations, copywriting and speech writing, Shawn worked as an on-air talent, producer and copywriter. Ping him here or follow him at @ShawnPaulWood.
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