Advertisers dump media companies for PR missteps (a certain hacking scandal comes to mind). And they pull controversial ads after they’ve gained enough notoriety (think DirectTV’s boxer ad, Yoplait's disordered eating spot, Summer’s Eve’s racially stereotyped talking vaginas, or JC Penney’s ‘girls are pretty and/or dumb’ shirts, and those are only from recent months).
But would advertisers pull their business from a creative agency over a violent political game unrelated to their business? Thanks to Tea Party Zombies Must Die, an online game launched by Brooklyn creative agency Starvingeyes, we’re about to find out.
As can be reasonably assumed from the title, the game allows users to bludgeon zombie versions of Tea Party supporters, featuring its leaders like Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, and Rick Santorum, as well as Fox News personalities like Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly. It’s meant to be provocative: one of the targets is “factory-made blonde Fox News Barbie who has never had a problem in her life zombie.” Another is “Koch whore lobbyist pig zombie,” a reference to the Tea Party’s big financial supporter.
And even though top selling video games encouraging random and brutal violence go largely unchecked, a game encouraging violence specifically against Republicans has not.
Mike Huckabee said in his radio report that he supports the First Amendment rights of the game’s creator but not the “hypocrisy of the left,” a reference to what he claimed was a double standard of a liberal media which has not been outraged enough by the game's violence. National Review writer Daniel Foster noted the waves of “New Tone” were “washing over” him.
Huckabee and others have suggested advertisers boycott Starvingeyes Advergaming, the Brooklyn, N.Y., creative shop behind the game. Starvingeyes creates “games for online viral campaigns” and counts Pepsi, TLC, Nascar, UPS, Hotels.com, and Meow Mix among its client roster. The shop is run by Jason Oda (or maybe consists solely of Oda; its unclear), who appears to know what he’s doing: he made similar games in 2008 and 2004, including an anti-George W. Bush game which allowed players to battle monster versions of Bush administration officials. Oda told Media Research Center the game was a personal project and that he doesn’t imagine it will hurt his business.