Yesterday we received a press release with the headline "SQUARE ENIX WANTS YOU TO PUT A HIT ON YOUR FRIENDS". The basic idea of the promotion was innocently couched in this paragraph from the press release:
"The experience brings the iconic character of Agent 47 to life in a moody, live action video which incorporates the target’s individual information from their Facebook account. Agent 47 tracks them down and pieces together his sniper rifle before assassinating them with cold, clinical precision. Pulling together a collage of their photos, the victim then witnesses their life flash before their eyes."
Well, its sounded like a pretty fun idea, right? Until you got into the detail. You got to choose the intended target for the hit and add some really well though out reasons for threatening the person on Facebook. Some of these reasons were captured on Rock, Paper, Shotgun before the app was pulled and included (and these are not made up):
- Her awful make-up
- Her ginger hair
- Her annoying laugh
- Her strange odour
- Her big ears
- Her muffin top
- Her hairy legs
- Her small tits
So, in a nutshell, the advertising campaign let you pick out one of your friends and insult them about their looks and then make them watch a video of them being murdered.I think the "BAFTA winning creative agency Ralph" that was behind this can really take a bow.
The promotion was pulled after only a couple of hours and this statement was made by Square Ennix:
"Earlier today we launched an app based around Hitman: Absolution that allowed you to place virtual hits on your Facebook friends. Those hits would only be viewable by the recipient and could only be sent to people who were confirmed friends. We were wide of the mark with the app and following feedback from the community we decided the best thing to do was remove it completely and quickly. This we've now done. We're sorry for any offence caused by this."
I'm just really sorry that Square Ennix did this to themselves. They are already in trouble with reports of poor profits and to go and tarnish a good game like Hitman with a poorly thought out campaign like this was really not clever.
Sources: Rock, Paper, Shotgun, Kotaku, MTV