THQ is playing up national pride with its marketing for Homefront, its upcoming shooter centered around the battle of survival to reclaim American soil from a successful North Korean invasion. Unfortunately, their latest PR stunt ending up falling flat in the water- literally.
To promote Homefront at this week's Game Developer's Conference in San Francisco, THQ arranged to have no less than 10,000 red ballons released at the Yerba Buena Gardens. The act was designed to be an homage to a propaganda campaign conducted by South Korea just earlier this week, where the military released millions of balloons into North Korean territory carrying information leaflets, cassette tapes and videos denouncing North Korea's leader Kim Jong-il and calling for the local populace to stand up against his dictatorship. North Korea's leadership naturally took the message very poorly, and threatened to turn South Korea into a "sea of fire" should they release any further propoganda balloons.
THQ's balloon propaganda would come in the form of a promotional voucher good for an exclusive GameStop bonus for Homefront; a "resistance multiplayer pack" with bonus in-game weapon. That's assuming anyone could get a hold of the balloons carrying the vouchers in the first place.
In an unfortunate turn of events, bad weather forced thousands of the balloons to plunge straight into San Francisco bay, where no one could reach them outside of taking a dip on a rainy day. If gamers were disappointed they may have missed out an a chance to score free download content for Homefront, local environmentalists were downright incensed over the mess the balloons made in the bay.
GameStop sympathised with environmental concerns over the wayward balloons, but distanced itself from the stunt, explaining that the whole things was THQ's idea in the first place. THQ assured the balloons themselves "were made from a 100% organic product and are 100% biodegradable", but have "retained a clean up crew to remove any potential lingering debris", just to be sure.
At least no kids were (allegedly) stuck to any of the balloons this time around.
Update: Some of the Homefront PR is promising to end in a tastier note than the sullied balloons. One of our readers, David, fired off a photograph he took of the Homefront food truck stationed in San Francisco to promote the game. Humorously it's dubbed the Pyongyang Express, which previously made rounds last E3. On the menu are chicken or beef "Korean tacos" and rice bowls, and "kimchee quesadillas".