Nice move on the part of video game maker Deep Silver, makers of the Saints Row franchise. Apparently, the developer promoted their “GAT V” (Gat 5) DLC (downloadable content) purposely on the same day that the new Grand Theft Auto 5 (GTAV) launched. Because people were lazy, confusion ensued, so much so that a CNN correspondent retweeted it when referring to GTA. Deep Silver also spent $200,000 to secure #GATV as a promoted tweet, which means it appeared in the twitter stream of every US Twitter user (how many people). In the end, #GATV trended to the top spot ahead of #GTAV.
What have we learned? Not even your hashtags are safe. Because hashtags can mean many things to many people–#MOCS13 was not only the hashtag of my company’s omni-channel shopper conference, but was also used by the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga athletic teams in 2013–they’re ripe of misinterpretation, misunderstanding and, in this case, brand hijacking. The stars happened to align. The Saints Row franchise had a popular character, Johnny Gat, so having him appear in the latest DLC made for his fifth sighting, hence #GATV.
Notice how CNN got caught out there:
— Marysabel Huston CNN (@hustonCNN) September 17, 2013
As Homer Simpson would say, “Doh!”
Yes, it’s possible to use a guerrilla social strategy to troll your competitors. However, it’s risky, since there needs to be a real connection to your brand as payoff. Trolling aside, the point was to gain earned media exposure around the Saints Row DLC and, hopefully, get people to download the extension. How many did? No data on that yet. However, I know that GTA V did $800 million in one day. In the end, a challenger brand has to have more than this in its marketing quiver.
What this is a great example of is a brand taking over the cultural conversation. Monday and Tuesday, it seemed like everyone who was into gaming was talking about Grand Theft Auto 5 (check out this PSFK article on how GTA became a cultural phenomenon), but thanks to some smart marketing and smart use of culture, Deep Silver was able to jump to the top of the trending heap.
Here’s the Saint’s Row DLC trailer: