When PR Goes Wrong: Videogame Maker Accused of Environmental Abuse

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War may be hell, but it turns out that promotional stunts for videogame war aren’t exactly a cakewalk, either. When THQ released thousands of red balloons into the air to promote the company’s upcoming Homefront game, it was meant to suggest South Korean attempts to send messages of hope to North Korea, the country behind the US invasion in the game – but what it ended up with was a public relations disaster and accusations of environmental carelessness.

The problem, it seems, was that the balloons didn’t make it very far in their journey to spread joy, PR, and suggestions to visit GameStop all over the world. In fact, thanks to the weather, they made it as far as the San Francisco Bay before dropping into the water and creating outrage from locals upset about the damage caused. The Environmental Defense Fund’s Rod Fujita was quoted by the San Francisco Chronicle as saying,

When I looked out the window and saw thousands of balloons dropping straight 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.

Amy Ricard, of the group Save The Bay, agreed:

Obviously, we have a problem with polluting of the bay and this is just polluting and littering.

Blame initially was aimed at GameStop, leading to the company releasing a statement denying all responsibility, and leading to THQ having to step forward, red-faced, and ‘fess up:

The balloons released at the Homefront rally event today were made from a 100% organic product and are 100% biodegradable. The balloons have no history of causing any environmental pollution on land or in water. Although we’re confident that there will be no harm to the environment, we’ve retained a clean up crew to remove any potential lingering debris. This was a THQ-sponsored promotion and GameStop had no involvement, whatsoever.

What’s that saying about all publicity being good publicity?

(Image by Ekai)

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