Monday, October 31, 2011

Is Grainger Games using the Bob Parsons playbook? (Sponsorship of the Games Media Awards)

When Andy C shared a Michael (heeed) Rimicans share of this Gizmodo UK story, I just ended up shaking my head.

Bulent Yusuf's story described the antics at this year's Games Media Awards in England. Now awards shows sometimes have antics from some of the people competing for awards, and sometimes there are antics from people just seeking free publicity. But in this case, the problems came from a different source.

Yusuf's article begins:

The first warning sign was at the entrance to the venue: Vinopolis, near London Bridge. Parked outside was a giant, orange-coloured Humvee, the words “Grainger Games” splattered all over it. Who’s Grainger Games? Why, they appeared to be the main sponsors of the evening’s festivities.

What does Grainger Games do, exactly? They’re a national games retail chain. Given that we’ve never heard of them before, sponsoring an industry event is a pretty savvy move, right?

Yusuf then describes some of the things that the sponsor did before the show even began. I'm not going to go into all of them here - read the article if you want to know more. I'm going to concentrate on what happened after the awards show itself began.

What really got everyone’s attention though was the table down at the front. Everyone on this table was pissed out of their heads, repeatedly interrupting [host Greg Davies'] routine for their own amusement. Someone shouts out “BUSTOP WANKER!”, in reference to a gag from The Inbetweeners. Who are these tossers? Why, it’s none other than the folks from Grainger Games.

Yusuf links to a JamSponge account:

Shouting loudly over the top of each and every award and speech, the lack of respect escalated from irritating to infuriating. Some kindly described the behaviour as heckling, but I’m pretty sure what you’re saying has be either amusing or decipherable for that distinction to be technically valid.

Expertly alternating between shouting whilst sitting down and shouting whilst standing up, at one of the particularly coked-up chaps even decided to jump up on stage and start thrusting his pelvis towards the audience. I think it might have been the award for Rock Paper Shotgun. I’m a big fan too, but still.

And it only got worse. Yusuf:

The pinnacle, or nadir, of the evening, came as Patrick Garrett stepped up to present a Games Media Legend Award for Colin Campbell. His speech, designed to honour and celebrate his colleague’s achievements, was slow-clapped and booed by the drunken morons from Grainger Games.

Also see Bitter Wallet and Nukezilla.

Stuart Dinsey of Intent Media, who organized (I mean organised) the event, penned a long statement which included the following:

I'd like to take this opportunity to apologise wholeheartedly for this – and to make it very clear that Grainger will not be welcome back in any capacity to the GMAs, or any Intent Media events.

I'd also like to give you a little background, without in any way ducking the fundamental point that, as event organiser, we take ultimate responsibility.

Grainger approached us a few months ago and explained that their intention, through association with the GMAs, was to get closer to the games media. What they have done, in spectacular fashion, is alienate the entire games media in one night. Good work, guys.

I'd especially like to apologise to the nominees and winners whose big night may have been soured; to our host, Greg Davies, who battled through manfully (and spoke for all of us, I think, when he told Grainger Games exactly what he thought of them); and to our sponsors, old and new, who year after year provide the funds and support to make the GMAs such a great event but who, last night, justifiably, were angry and horrified to find their names associated with such shoddy behaviour.

For its part, Grainger Games issued an apology that Nukezilla characterised (see, I can un-Zed) as "weak." Judge for yourself:

The GMAs

We wholeheartedly apologise if we offended anyone at last night's GMAs. It was never our intention to upset anybody. We sponsored the awards to show our support for everyone involved in games media and we continue to value and appreciate all their hard work and commitment.

My suspicion is that they're trying to follow Bob Parsons' GoDaddy route - basically, to get free publicity by doing things that HBO and Showtime lovers characterize (or characterise) as "edgy." But that course of action will only work if your sales are so outstanding that investors will want to be associated with you DESPITE your boorish behavior (behaviour).

(You know, perhaps I need two blogs - one for the USA, and one for the rest of the world. Or perhaps I'll write all of my posts in French, and allow my readers to translate them with all the u's and s's and zed's that they want.)
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