As part of a marketing stunt for Mafia Wars, dozens of fake $25,000 bills were glued to the sidewalks around San Francisco. It was probably a hoot watching people bend down and try to pick them up but the Department of Public Works isn’t laughing. They say they had to steam clean the sidewalks costing them time and money. . . really money, not that phony stuff. The total cost is still being figured, said a spokesperson to SFGate, but you can bet it’s going to be high enough to prove that crime don’t pay.
The stunt was one of two campaigns Zynga launched to promote a new Las Vegas version of Mafia Wars. The bills in question had the link to the website on them — but then why were they “glued” to the street? Did they expect people to bend down, read and remember the address? Wouldn’t it have made more sense to leave loose money lying around?
The new game site is offering up a $25,000 grand prize, thus the dollar amount on the bills. Their other promo, one that was far more dangerous, actually went off without a hitch. They hired Snoop Dogg to blow up an armored car in the Vegas desert, and that’s an interesting story in itself. You can read how it came about at Inc.
Meanwhile, back in San Francisco, Zynga’s been ordered to turn over all of their files pertaining to the marketing campaign in the city. They’re also requesting that the company come up with a “proposal to fully resolve the issue.” Paying to clean up the mess alone isn’t going to cut it.
The irony here is that the hoopla surrounding the stunt has generated more press than the stunt itself, so whatever Zynga has to pay in the end may be worth it.