Borderlands 2 bungee, or how not to run a PR event

The publicity accruing from high profile PR events is certainly something to debate. Some see it as raising brand awareness, some as a service to a section of the fan base, some even argue these events have a direct impact on sales. All of these are hard to measure. However, what’s key with these kind of events is that they must be flawless, or as close to perfect as possible.

Last week a number of large websites published news that 2K games and gearbox were putting on a free bungee jump for fans of Borderlands 2 from 10am to 4pm this Sunday passed. With a six hour window in which jumps would be happening, it was suggested that a huge number of attendees would get a jump. Each brave soul that did so would also receive a free copy of the game.

This article is not a review of the game dear reader, but an account of the much touted publicity stunt to coincide with the launch of Borderlands 2. For the full newb review, check back later this week – it’s a big game and we want to ensure we play all of it before we advise you!

Arriving just before 9am I was greeted by a large queue, but with no sign of a bungee crane ready to go. It’s fine though right? They’ve got a whole hour to set the crane up and get people jumping for their complimentary copy of the game. Dutifully we followed the queue around the corner and joined the back, where we patiently waited.

As 10am came and went without the crane even being ready for action, I started to worry. With around 200 people waiting in line in front of us and another 150 or so behind, the crowd began to murmour. This murmuring grew more and more aggravated as the weather began to turn.

Just a fraction of the damp punters, waiting for a chance to bungee

10 minutes later and our place in the queue shifted forward some 30m. Hurrah! They must have started. No such luck. At 10.20 the crane was still not operational and our advance along the line was clearly due to pissed off punters heading for the hills… Or home at least.

A little before 11am two sheepish looking men in purple Borderlands 2 tees walked to the back of the queue and began talking to the crowd. As they worked their way along, relaying the same story; that they hadn’t anticipated such a crowd and it was extremely unlikely that any of us would get to jump, it was clear that the dripping wet crowd were not happy.

Why hadn’t they told us this an hour ago? Why weren’t they up and running on schedule? Where was our apology for this shambles?

A little later the PR man returned with a box of branded swag, check our twitter or Facebook for details of how to win it.

The promise of a free game for doing something daft brought the crowd. A catalogue of failings on behalf of PR had them leaving cold, wet and without the game they had turned out to claim.

I didn’t need the free stuff, dear reader, I pre-ordered the game and have it sitting on the side at home. I went for the story. I waiver this isn’t quite the story 2K wanted.

- Tom Wallis

Sun, September 23 2012 » Articles, Gaming News

8 Responses

  1. Edward September 23 2012 @ 7:09 pm

    I disagree that this event was poorly handled. There were problems with getting the crane set up and the jumps had to be called off early because of the wind. Neither of these complications were down to the borderlands pr team, who were all really decent and friendly. I do think, however, that the que could have been organized and communicated to a lot better. I myself waited in the rain for 6 hours, didn’t get to jump, had a laugh with the staff and other punters, got the promise of having a game sent to me and got handed one of the banners. I think this was a great event which suffered from bad weather and a faulty crane.

  2. Firenzey September 24 2012 @ 6:03 am

    I have a friend who went to this event he got there at 7 in the AM and didnt get to jump so please explain to me edward how that is not poorly handled as far as PR goes??

  3. ClacTom September 24 2012 @ 10:33 am

    I totally agree that the PR staff were friendly and they are a bunch of very likable guys. The people in the queue that I spoke to weren’t particularly happy with how late the jumps got started (advertised to be 10am) and were asking why they weren’t told sooner than 11am that they wouldn’t be able to jump! It just seems that with a bit more communication to the people turning up there would have been lower expectations and generally happier people.

  4. sumo September 24 2012 @ 11:20 am

    I also got there at 9am, I’m at the very right of your photo. At around 10:30 they told us they were only originally planning for 80 people to jump in that 6 hours. They should have closed the queue then and had a one in – one out policy in case anyone backed out. Rather than letting us queue in hope for so long.

  5. Edward September 24 2012 @ 9:41 pm

    i rekon your mate bottled it and didnt have the heart to tell you, sorry

  6. Kate Stamp September 24 2012 @ 10:03 pm

    I was there from 8.20am and I jumped. Your mate bottled it Dude.

  7. Mightyles September 24 2012 @ 10:16 pm

    One of my work colleagues arrived at just after 9am and the queue was already about 100 people. According to him, due to the crane breaking and the adverse weather, only 6 people actually got to jump before they called it a day.

  8. OrangeNick September 25 2012 @ 12:35 am

    As a potential punter that arrived at the end of the queue I can tell you that far more than 6 people jumped, however due to high winds above the buildings UK Bungee club (the technical team behind this PR stunt) called it a day at around 2:30/3pm. I know this as I’m the miserable looking chap in the orange jacket to the right of the photo in this report. I made it through to the bitter end and was standing next to the basket that was repeatedly hoisted into the air to have a variety of crazy gamers hop out of it tied to a large rubber band. Two crowd favorites seemed to be the woman in the full on spiderman costume and the chap who narrowly avoided losing a shoe on his downward travel.

    I’m still optimistic at receiving an email from the PR team, I expect tomorrow as most of them should have had today off work after being forced to work on a Sunday, asking for my platform of choice and home address. I hope they can read my scrawled email address and name which I wrote on the form with a hand I could barely stop shaking after standing for so long in the rain with a rubbish waterproof coat which was as waterproof as a cheese sandwich. I also hope they forgive the mild exposure symptoms which caused me to write my name in the ‘email address’ column and vice versa.

    I only have good things to say about the brewery events security staff who made light of a pretty bad situation. The sharing of umbrellas and light hearted banter with the sad miserable souls that we were helped to ease an otherwise painful day.

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