iPhone 5 PR Stunt Ends in Disaster Leaving 21 Homeless
September 26th, 2012, San Francisco, in a series of "stunts" to gain public attention for a new Apple iPhone 5 and iPad game launch, a startup went overboard causing massive property damage.
At 7:00 am, a crew drove 3 cranes, equipped with 1.5 ton wrecking balls, to a mid-city housing complex. The wrecking balls were painted to look like roundish flying Yumbies, adorable characters who smash through buildings and other structures in the game.
"It sounded like a clever idea," stated Steve Hoffman, the CEO of Playgearz, the company that created the Yumbies. "But there was trouble with the execution."
With a cheering audience, the cranes arrived at a supposedly abandoned housing complex in South San Francisco. Amidst the fanfare, they proceeded to carry out a demolition in the style of their game.
A bystander reported: "Things began to look odd when a couple inside the building started yelling for help and waving white t-shirts."
A second bystander saw residents crowding fire escapes on the side of the building. Within 2 minutes, there were 237 phone calls made to 9-11.
"We couldn't get their attention in the cranes," said a neighborhood security guard. "Most of them were listening to heavy metal music while operating the machinery. Giant painted wrecking balls were swinging everywhere."
Firemen reported that two thirds of the building was demolished in the failed stunt, causing an estimated $9 million in damages.
Tork, the Yumby foreman in charge, is quoted as having said, "They told us the building was condemned."
A woman who was inside the building during the demolition told reporters, "I thought it was the beginning of the end… What are Yumbies? I don't understand why this happened."
Court hearings have been scheduled for early December. All Yumbies are being held without bail until the trial, while the San Francisco district attorney looks into whether game characters can be prosecuted.
PlayGearz is a mobile games studio located in San Francisco, California. PlayGearz develops and publishes apps and games for Apple's (AAPL) iPhone & iPad on iOS 6, as well as Google's (GOOG) Android, Amazon's (AMZN) Kindle Fire, Facebook (FB), and Barnes & Noble (BKS) Nook. If you haven't guessed already, the Yumbies are fictional characters who inhabit the PlayGearz games. Although they enjoy smashing things, it typically doesn't cause physical damage or add to San Francisco's housing problems.
This is the first PR I can think of that goes on to paint a picture of a $9mln disaster in the very city I live in and blame the very company that's so cleverly sending the email in the first place, before subtly revealing its real nature. PlayGearz had me going pretty much until the end - I didn't look at the firstname.lastname@example.org email, and the big PRESS RELEASE header didn't load thanks to Gmail being cautious.
Best. Press release. Ever. It's a breath of fresh air compared to the hundreds of boring PRs we see each day. Bravo, PlayGearz. Now, where are those games you're talking about? They're not here. Or here. Great PR stunt - you've got our attention, but it'd help if there was something for us to look at.
P.S. I lied - this is not the best email to ever hit our inbox, but rather the best press release email. Omitting that little detail was the only way to make sure we don't spoil the ending for you.