You Be The Judge: When Things Get Violent

By SuperSpy 

ARGs are tough. Ask any advertising agency who has gotten burned by playing with a fire they didn’t really understand. Often, companies fail to realize how savvy, quick and talented their players are at scoping out the lay of the land often ending games before they ever really get started.

A new way of getting scorched has arrived. PPC Interactive created an ARG with the point of promoting the new movie UNTRACEABLE, in which a serial killer sets up shop on the internet and from an unknown I.P, tortures his victims over live feed. On a video blogging site called, seesmic, a clip was uploaded of a planted member named ‘Sharpshooter’ being electrocuted to death. This resulted in the moderator freaking out and speed dialing the police.

Other mishaps for this promotion of the film include the Head of PPC, Dan Light, twittering that Facebook had removed an associated interactive ad titled, “Kill With Me,” from the site for being “hateful.” Major media ended up covering the resulting fall out. The text of the ad read:

“This guy is going to die. You want to see his stinking flesh burn and bleed and blacken? Until he’s some twisted dead thing? This is what you want. And I’ve filmed it especially for you. The more fans I get, the more I’ll show …”

Dan told Variety that he was “I am surprised and disappointed that Facebook has taken this action. These sorts of social media campaigns are the only way to be competitive at the moment.”

He’s surprised? Riiiight. Dude, when print ads like the one below from W+K get banned, you better believe that this little Facebook spot is going to be silenced. Also, consider that the UK has been pulling offensive, misleading and certainly violent spots of all kinds since the summer.

Oh… wait. Later, Light admitted the company had expected the campaign to be pulled from the social networking site, so had “other things in place.” Ah, yes. The Go Daddy theory of advertising success. His final comments to the Guardian about the ARG panic:

“There’s that interesting question of whether people are desensitised to things on screen,” he added. “They will watch these things, but won’t say they watched them.”

“But my view is that if you are entertaining or stimulating the user then you go some way towards earning the right for their attention.”

So readers… you be the judge. Is this the right attention? How do you feel about the whole debacle?