I understand that to break through the “noise” you have to sometimes be a bit outrageous…

…but accusing yourself in a press release of committing crimes is a bit over the top.


…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.

alleged crimes committed as a pr stunt gone awary

The headline here is pure linkbait: “iPhone 5 PR stunt ends in disaster leaving 23 homeless.” Grabs all the journos looking for a follow-up story on the iPhone 5 launch, and seeds in the delicious possibility of catching someone doing something dumb & cinematic to put on the TV news.

The press release has sucked in a few bloggers already who haven’t really bothered to go to Teh Google and look to see if there’s actually anything like this on the newswires.

razorianfly repeats yumby press release

Razorianfly uncritically repeats the Playgearz release. Apparently, opening up a new tab and taking 30 seconds to run a couple Google searches is a bit more due diligence than the publishing schedule allows.

The commenters on RazorianFly are pretty much on to this being a fake, however:

commenters on razorianfly story

Surprised there isn’t more vitriol here. This post may be gone pretty soon. Expect to see this up on TechCrunch … maybe.

“Jeff” is right. This didn’t happen. If there was actually wrongful demolition going on in San Francisco, the radio, TV & news sites would be lit up like Donald Trump’s eyes at seeing another bonkers conspiracy theory.Viz the lack of content and the dog totally not barking on SFGate:

front page of the SF chronicle showing no yumby damage

You really think that if there was a disaster like this in SF, that everything would be this quiet? At the very least, there would be all kinds of squatters moving in to the rubble as well as a million Kickstarter projects to fund the class-action lawsuits against Playgearz.

Then again, I did open up and do a Google search for the game. Which seems pretty derivative of Angry Birds. Yeah, yeah, I get it – “they’re not angry – they’re hungry!”

C’mon dude. That reeks of Borscht-Belt desperation. We see that down here in Hollywood all the time. “It’s like Star Wars – only with lions! All the storm troopers are like the evil uncle in Lion King, and Luke Skywalker is a young leopard, and Mace Windoo is a Black Panther … it’ll be bigger than Avatar!” It’s a hallmark of a smalltimer trying to appear big, saying the types of stuff that they see supposedly smart people saying on bad TV sitcoms about how to be successful. 

Still, there’s a part of my that kinda respects the rule-breaking, anarchic spirit here. The old-time PR flacks I ran into when I was a fresh young punk in Hollywood talked fondly about the good ol’ days when they would do crazy PR stunts like touting Jean-Claude Van Damme as the “kickboxing champion of Belgium” to get attention. Or sending a giant U.S. Army, WWII-vintage crate marked “Explosives” with a hollowed-out artillery shell inside with a photo of the latest blonde bombshell tucked into it.

But if you’re going to try to do some reality-bending like this, you might wanna make it kinda clearer in the release (at the bottom, or with a clue hidden somewhere in fine print or in a photo caption) that you’re actually joking. But leading people down a path like this, manipulating them to get attention – it’s a short-term con. The payoff is that the audience sees that you’re a liar. One who had some clever copy in the release that made us click to open it – but ultimately left us feeling cheated and deceived.

So now I don’t trust this brand. I don’t trust this game. I think that the game will be like this release – showy, to get your attention, but ultimately, not delivering what was promised.

So yeah – at what point does it become OK to fake news about a crazy disaster in order to get clicks to your game?