THQ's Homefront balloon stunt sparks eco-outrage

A lofty promotion for THQ's Homefront has landed the publisher in lukewarm water. Yesterday, THQ attempted to grab the attention of GDC attendees by releasing hundreds of red balloons into the San Francisco skyline. The stunt backfired shortly thereafter when the balloons settled en masse in the water around the San Francisco Bay Bridge, possibly breaking state legal codes, and definitely the hearts of Californian environmentalists.

Soon after the balloons fell to earth, THQ was attacked on all fronts by angry Facebookers, Twitterers and San Francisco activists who responded as if the entire THQ staff had personally taken a dump in the city's sacred waters.

Above: Oh the humanity!!

One sternly worded letter, sent to a local GameStop by San Francisco artist Camron Assadi, read, "The idiots in your marketing department released hundreds of red balloons to promote a video game at GDC. Now those balloons are trash in the Bay. What are you going to do about it? Do you have a boat out there collecting this trash?"

Though the GameStop name adorned the balloons, the local retailer quickly distanced itself from the promotion. In a statement to the press it claimed, "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, the publisher of Homefront, and GameStop had no prior knowledge of it."

Above: THQ's marketing team faces swift Californian justice

In defense of its alleged eco-terrorist actions, THQ issued its own statement, explaining, "The balloons released at the Homefront rally event today were made from a 100 percent organic product and are 100 percent 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 cleanup crew to remove any potential lingering debris."

So the organic, biodegradable balloons were organic and biodegradable, and cleaned up, but despite THQ's apologies and appeasements, a representative from the California Department of Fish and Game, Patrick Foy, has alluded to the chance that THQ might still be prosecuted for breaking the California Fish and Game code 5652, which clearly states the act of littering balloons into the waters is a legal no-no, as doing so has been known to kill whales and turtles.

In slightly better news, THQ's Danny Bilson recently confirmed to Eurogamer that Homefront has become THQ's most pre-ordered title ever, with over 200,000 copies already earmarked for consumers.

The take-away from today's story? 99 Luftballons, Auf ihrem Weg zum Horizont. Hielt man für Ufos aus dem All...

[Source: GameSpot]

Mar 3, 2011

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Matt Bradford wrote news and features here at GamesRadar+ until 2016. Since then he's gone on to work with the Guinness World Records, acting as writer and researcher for the annual Gamer's Edition series of books, and has worked as an editor, technical writer, and voice actor. Matt is now a freelance journalist and editor, generating copy across a multitude of industries.