Weirdness: When PR Stunts Go Wrong - Watch Dogs
Posted by Thomas Whitehead
Anonymous package caused office evacuation and bomb disposal call
Wii U owners may not be able to play Watch Dogs this week, but that doesn't mean Nintendo gamers shouldn't follow Ubisoft's release with some interest — it is apparently still coming to Nintendo's system this year, remember. We can also get a laugh from bonkers PR moves that have gone wrong, such as an example that afflicted the Ninemsn offices in Australia.
As reported by mumbrella.com — thanks, Kotaku — the press office received a courier-delivered, but not signed-for, package that caused some alarm. A rather intimidating mini-safe arrive with a note for the journalist in question to check their voicemail, and naturally there was no message; confused staff then attempted to open the safe with a pin code that was taped on, at which point the box started to beep. Naturally worried it could be an explosive device — a reasonable concern — the newsroom discovered that no other press offices they contacted had a similar box; staff on the building's 6th floor were sent home and bomb disposal officers were called in to open the safe in the building's basement. Ninemsn editor Hal Crawford said the following.
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.
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.
Quite right, too. What was in the box, after all that fuss? A copy of the game, a baseball cap and a beanie hat, with a note that it was embargoed until 5pm.
It's unclear whether Ubisoft or an external agency sent the package, though ultimately the responsibility falls on the publisher. If it was an agency, we suspect they'll be fielding some extremely irritated calls from their client; Ubisoft doesn't appear to have provided a statement on the incident as yet.
This is a good warning for PR agencies, though — don't send intimidating and beeping locked boxes, with no indication of what they are, to press offices.