Viral marketing ‘backfire’

The Register reported yesterday on a marketing campaign to promote the latest version of the Resident Evil PlayStation 2 game which provoked a panic about the spread of a non-existent mobile phone virus.

Phone users have received unsolicited SMS text messages on their mobile phones telling them they are infected by the so-called T-Virus. The messages are sent from a website designed to promote the game Resident Evil: Outbreak which will be released in mid September.

As a result, one anti-virus software firms has been receiving calls from concerned phone users reporting a virus outbreak.

CE Europe, the company behind the marketing campaign – who claim the T-Virus campaign is a world-first as a ‘viral mechanic’ for promoting a computer game – issued a press release to explain that the whole thing was a promotional stunt, although they seem unrepentant.

Will this backfire hurt launch sales? Very unlikely. I’m not sure it was a backfire. Looks like a refreshing and different marketing approach to me. The resulting segment media coverage and awareness-raising among the primary target audience (teens/young adults) will surely help Resident Evil: Outbreak when launch time comes.

The Register | Resident Evil viral marketing ploy backfires

T-Virus website.