Epic Fail: “Homefront” Balloon Stunt Gone Wrong

99 Red Balloons this is not.

Although it is refreshing to see how far games have come in popularity, THQ’s recent stunt to promote their warfare game Homefront is instead a great example of how not to promote an entertainment release.  Environmentalists were shocked to see 10,000 red balloons dispersed into the air, consequently headed towards the San Francisco Bay.  While this was clearly not the planned landing spot, wind and rain forced most of the balloons into the bay.

The stunt, a promotion for THQ’s game Homefront, came after a mock rally inspired by Homefront’s plot.  The game is set in the not so distant future where the United States is invaded by nuclear-armed troops from North Korea.  The balloon stunt itself was designed to “simulate a method used by South Korea to send messages of hope to the North.”  The message received instead, was one of environmental disrespect as photos of the catastrophe flooded onto social networking sites.

Rod Fujita, a senior oceans scientist for the Environmental Defense Fund, commented: “When I looked out (of) the window and saw thousands of balloons dropping into the bay, I was flabbergasted.  I never expected to see something like this in San Francisco, where there’s such concern about the bay and pollution.”  While THQ assured that the balloons were 100% biodegradable and organic, just to be sure, they added: ” We’ve retained a clean up crew to remove any potential lingering debris.”

Although THQ was clearly at fault for this disaster, they were not the only company receiving the angry backlash of comments.  GameStop, notorious for excessive promotions for games (and their pre-order program), was a prime suspect when blame for the incident started being thrown around.  This was with good reason, as the secondary message of this stunt was quite literally a message attached to each balloon.  What was of such environmental ravishing importance?   It was a special offer from GameStop allowing gamers to “receive the resistance multi-player pack, featuring an exclusive weapon.”

GameStop, like THQ, went into immediate damage control mode by commenting: “We understand the concerns consumers have regarding the impact balloons can have on the environment.  However, the balloon drop stunt in San Francisco was created by THQ … and GameStop had no prior knowledge of it.”  Understandably,  residents and environmentalists alike thought that GameStop was full of hot air.  “Your balloon campaign was a stupid thing to do to a city surrounded on three sides by water,” one San Francisco resident said in an e-mail to GameStop. “You should be held accountable for the waste.”

I think both THQ and GameStop will think twice next time before promoting a game with such disregard to environmental issues.


Source: The San Francisco Chronicle

Images are from: The San Francisco Chronicle

Jessica Weimar
Jessica Weimar
Jessica Weimar

MASH Veteran

Jessica is clearly a fan of video games, or she wouldn't be writing for this site. She attends college and like most other staff on the site, has a day job that she despises. She spends most of her free time playing games with her boyfriend.

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