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    How Innovative Marketing Made And Broke A Company

    In most industries, businesses and brands will do all that they can to stand out from the crowd, even if that means breaking all of the rules, and one company made their name off the backs of seemingly “bad” publicity, before losing everything due to that same aggressive attitude.

    The company was Acclaim Entertainment, a prolific video game publisher that became one of the most successful in the world thanks to a combination of using popular intellectual properties, publishing successful imports and somewhat innovative marketing techniques.

    Their first and arguably most successful example of Acclaim courting controversy was Mortal Monday, a major publicity drive ahead of their home console conversion of controversy magnet and ultra-violent fighting game Mortal Kombat.

    The game was not intended for children, but much of the marketing centred around younger teenagers, and this made the game incredibly controversial and naturally very successful, particularly for the Sega Mega Drive where a cheat code could restore the blood and fatality mechanic.

    This formula worked for most of the rest of the 1990s but after losing several major licenses, most notably the World Wrestling Federation during the peak of its own controversy-attracting “Attitude Era”, the company leaned increasingly on courting controversy and the free marketing it provided.

    This approach would end up destroying the company.

    The first serious attempt at this came in 2002 when to promote the racing game Burnout 2: Point of Impact, Acclaim claimed they would pay the speeding tickets of any driver in the UK who bought a copy of the game, which received condemnation from the UK government and was cancelled.

    Another banned marketing idea was to pay for the funerals of any person who would allow a small advertisement for Shadow Man: 2econd Coming to be placed on their headstone. They did at least manage to launch their campaign to pay £6000 to any parent who named their baby Turok as part of a publicity drive for Turok Evolution.

    By far the worst and most destructive example of this strategy, however, was the release of BMX XXX. Initially intended to be a licensed game based on the late BMX rider Dave Mirra, and decided to add more overtly sexual content as a way to increase sales and publicity.

    This initially led to more publicity but became one of Acclaim’s lowest-ever selling titles due to several major retailers refusing to stock it. This, combined with a lawsuit by Dave Mirra for image damage led to Acclaim declaring bankruptcy a year later in 2004.

    This proves that whilst controversy can in small amounts generate interest and sales, relying too heavily on shocking potential customers can backfire disastrously.

    For more information and advice from a marketing agency in Hull, get in touch today.

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