Sunday, 7 September 2008

Free fuel anyone? Welcome the launch of Mercenaries 2

This week saw the launch of the second game in the Mercenaries series launched by Electronic Arts, with a very cunning, and controversial launch strategy which has thrown up a number of differing views.

So, the game, 'Mercenaries 2: World in Flames' is set in 2010 Venezuela, where a evil dictator has seized control of the country's oil supply. It is the player's mission to hunt down this dictator and end his terrible cause. Oil therefore becomes the game's currency, and you as the player must use your array of available weapons and vast collection of vehicles to work your way through the game.

Ok, now the launch strategy, Electronic Arts offered 500 lucky motorists the chance to win £40 worth of free fuel, in a massive £20,000 first come first served petrol giveaway. The 'problem' was that this offer was only available at the Last Stop garage which lies between Stroud Green and Finsbury Park, in North London, in the middle of a residential area, during the morning rush hour. As you can imagine chaos followed, with queues, arguments, and a few delighted winning motorists.

A silly idea with clear neglect of the consequences, or brilliant piece of strategic thinking? Well I'm afraid I'm going to have to say that i agree with the latter. What an excellent way of causing mayhem and reflecting the true colours of the game, with a lovely sprinkling of PR to boot. I think this was a very brave and ballsy idea which the client and agency should be proud of.