You know a PR stunt has gone horribly wrong and the “shitz hitz the fanz” when a publisher had to call in a bomb squad due to a suspicious package which turned out to be a promotional material.
An Australia-based publication Ninemsn received a black safe along with a suspicious letter which told them to check their voicemail. The matter escalated when the reporter didn’t receive any voicemail, and the staff tried to open the safe with the pin code that they’ve received with the safe. The safe failed to open, and started to beep and one would expect that the staff freaked out that there could be an explosive device inside the safe.
Ninemsn’s editor Hal Crawford did say that they did admit that at first they though its a PR stunt, but when other newsrooms and publications confirmed that they haven’t received such package with a suspicious letter, it triggered a panic among the staff.
He said,”This is definitely the other side of the line in terms of what it’s safe for a PR company to send anonymously to a newsroom. The thing was black, heavy and slightly creepy.” He added,”We did check with other newsrooms to see if they had received a similar package as we thought it was a PR stunt, but no-one else had. We weren’t panicked at any point, but given there was no note explaining what it was, we had to take sensible precautions.”
When the bomb squad was called in and forcefully opened the safe in the basement of the building, it contained promotional materials for Watch Dogs- a baseball cap that belongs to the game’s lead character, a beanie and the game’s embargo reminder. Ubisoft’s spokesperson later apologized, and said that the voicemail, safe and the ‘suspicious’ letter was a part of their Watch Dogs’ theme promotion. But the safe was accompanied with a wrong pin code, and it didn’t go as planned as they were not able to leave a voicemail for the journalist.
Ubisoft is really pushing hard to promote a game, including their recent Youtube promo video which shows a hacker controlling cars and lights in the streets of Chicago using a device. However, this PR disaster is something that everyone will remember for a LONG time!