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Square Enix cans eyebrow-raising  Hitman  Facebook marketing campaign
Square Enix cans eyebrow-raising Hitman Facebook marketing campaign
December 4, 2012 | By Mike Rose

December 4, 2012 | By Mike Rose
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    22 comments
More: Console/PC, Business/Marketing



Following a controversial Hitman: Absolution trailer that launched earlier this year, Square Enix has once against found itself in hot water, thanks to a Hitman Facebook campaign that asked users to call "hits" on their friends.

The 'Hire Hitman' website, which was only live for less than an hour thanks to a flurry of complaints across social media, allowed users to "hit" the Facebook timelines of friends, for having "big ears," "small tits" or "a tiny penis," among other possible selections.

Users would then be able to click on the "hit" on their Facebook wall, click through to the Hitman website, and choose to make a hit back. The link to the campaign now redirects to the series' official website.

Square Enix marketers were trying to be clever in their socially-networked vulgarity, but aside from the tasteless insults, it was the campaign's insensitivity toward the real issue of cyber-bullying that shocked many denizens of the web. Gamasutra has contacted Square Enix querying the move.

The marketing campaign was removed rather swiftly as press, developers and gamers alike took to Twitter and Facebook to note their disgust at the stunt.

Earlier this year, a trailer depicting sexy dominatrix nuns getting violently beaten and killed by Hitman's protagonist caused offense, leading developer IO Interactive to apologize.


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Comments


Liza Shulyayeva
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This is why we can't have nice things.

Ryan Creighton
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No more hits on dudes with tiny penises? I LIVE TO SEE ANOTHER DAY.

Laura Stewart
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*headdesk*

Wylie Garvin
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They may have pulled the advertising campaign, but the fact that somebody approved it, somebody paid for it, that it actually went live... that all says bad things about Square Enix.

I predict that those person(s) will not be publically identified by, and fired by, Square Enix.

Chris Hendricks
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Ooh, "headdesk". I must remember that as a "facepalm" alternative.

Michael Joseph
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shock marketing aka shockvertising

Dave Hoskins
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Closely followed by 'shock' retelling of said avdertising on gaming news sites etc etc.

Christian Nutt
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Facepalm after facepalm.

Ryan Paulson
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I am really disappointed by this. Hitman in my eyes has had a long standing tradition of being a tactical thinking game. Albeit you're thinking and planning on how to kill someone without getting caught but it was always like chess. This goes entirely against the careful planning the gameplay encourages.

[User Banned]
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This user violated Gamasutra’s Comment Guidelines and has been banned.

Ron Dippold
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I don't think I'd consider something like To the Moon to be immature entertainment. It's certainly less so than a whole lot of books or movies. I don't think it's the vehicle that's immature, it's just the approach of the creators - and once you go multiplayer, the players.

The FPS genre certainly tends to immature approaches to everything, but the stealth/flexible approach genre has generally been a bit better than that. This just throws that out the window then pees on the body.

Zach Lyle
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Immature entertainment? Seriously?

David Navarro
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"News flash: games are immature entertainment."

So are movies; I'm not sure I understand what you're getting at here.

Johnathon Tieman
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Hmm... let me see, we now have many websites talking about Hitman all for no cost to Square Enix. Seems to me like the marketing company did its job extremely well.

Chris Hendricks
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Only in a mindset of "all publicity is good publicity", I guess.

Taekwan Kim
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I don't understand why this idea keeps getting repeated. The marketing only succeeds if it actually increases sales (and enough to leave a profit after marketing expenses), which I have a hard time believing this did. Failing that, it should at least endear customers to the brand, which again seems highly unlikely.

Johnathon Tieman
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@Chris/Taekwan: There are plenty of examples to show that there isn't any such thing as bad publicity - Howard Stern made his career off of that fact. Getting the name out increases sales, however that is done. Everyone who plays games is going to know the name Hitman: Absolution now. That is the whole point of marketing - to keep the name in the consumers' minds.

Taekwan Kim
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I'm no expert, but isn't Stern's _product_ notoriety? That's what he specifically sells. Unless SE is trying to do the same with H:A (which, I guess, might actually be the case), again I don't really see how a tarnished reputation is going to help them shift units. Is there something I'm missing (genuine question)?

I'm reminded of Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock during the 2012 election. _That_ notoriety certainly didn't help them.

Fawzi Mesmar
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Shocking! A marketing devision that doesn't know anything about the game they're making a campaign for! this has never happened before! -_-

Konstantin Yavichev
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It's like the "Hot Coffee" thing in GTA - let's do something outrageous, cover it up like we are better than that, but we will still enjoy the PR...

John McMahon
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Never thought I'd agreed with Mr. Luthor but he's right.

Hot Coffee was code leftover in the game itself and was only accessible on the PC version of San Andreas when a modder activated that code.

This is created by a marketing company (though one wonders how much input and/or direction was given by Square Enix) and deployed and then taken down within hours.

The "Hot Coffee" incident was due to Rockstar not removing unnecessary code and then not disclosing that to the ESRB board.

Jeremie Sinic
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Damn, I can't believe I missed this news. This marketing stunt is so ridiculous it's almost genius :D


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