EA’s Free Gas Stunt Angers Politician, Police, Local Residents

A member of Great Britain’s Parliament had harsh words for Electronic Arts after a marketing stunt for Mercenaries 2 gridlocked her district during the morning rush hour.

Hoping to draw attention to the game, EA gave away £20,000 of fuel at a station in North London. The Telegraph reports on the ensuing traffic jam:

A petrol station which gave away free fuel has been temporarily shut down after motorists flocking to its pumps caused traffic chaos…


Norman Tidiman, from Hackney… said: "I saw a girl who stopped because she wasn’t going to make the lights, and the man in the car behind her got out his car and started to bully her.


Liberal Democrat MP Lynne Featherstone (left) was not pleased with EA:

Whilst a lucky few might have got some free petrol, hundreds of local residents have faced misery on their daily journeys this morning. They deserve an apology for being the victims of such an ill-thought out media stunt…


Trying to recreate Venezuelan-style fuel riots on the streets of London is completely irresponsible and downright dangerous…

An EA rep told the Telegraph that police ultimately shut the event down as too disruptive. Mercs 2, of course, is set in Venezuela, where petroleum is a huge economic force. As in a similar event held in Los Angeles last week, the station was decorated to match the theme of the game.

The BBC has more, including a video report.

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  1. oto kirlama says:

    Gallagher can araç kiralama say all he wants, but I strongly rent a car believe it’s due to his crappy leadership and E3 being a joke. ESA’s Board of Directors need to find a way to get out rent a car of this horrid contract with this Bush cronie before there’s no one left on the Board.

    Btw, I think Atari and Midway will drop out too, but mostly travesti because  these guys have done nothing ttnet vitamin or little and need to start saving costs.


  2. Anonymous says:

     Just on another note, the member of parliament who was so outraged (and is my MP), is much loved around here. She is a grade A MILF and I support any attempt to get her on the TV. 

  3. Manuel deBettencourt ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    As in the words of the commercial song for the game. "Oh no they didn’t!"

  4. Chuma says:

    You don’t think you would be a little pissed off if you were in a 4 hour traffic jam and late for work because of some corporate advertising?

  5. Kajex says:

    In the U.S., this would be considered a public disturbance. Imagine if somebody had a heart attack and died because of EA’s retarded little stunt.

    If there’s a brain among EA’s employees or advertisers, then it better the hell speak up before shit like this gets out of hand. Bad enough the company has a bad reputation. I’m not sure that even Rockstar would pull a bullshit stunt like this.

  6. BlackIce says:

    Look, we’re scum anyway. The guy bullying the driver was always going to bully the poor girl. That said FREE PETROL FTW!

  7. Anonymous ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Because that guy is a full adult, and the other guy was only 20, though i dont doubt that many news people said 18 to make it interesting, haha.  damn media sucks and needs to reports the facts, and not try to spice things up for ratings.

    Nice fact finding though man.

  8. sheppy says:

    You’re absolutely right, with this being a standard promotion in the US for going on 30 years and never once having any issues aside from the traffic jams, I can totally see how EA had no previous evidence even as recent as their LA promotion the week prior in which to believe this would be a hassle free way to promote their game.

    Also, I’m sorry, she’s blaming EA for the road rage?  Query:

    When Devin Moore pulls a gun from a policeman’s holster and shoots two policeman and a dispatcher and desides to blame GTA with Thompson at his defense and we’re ready to call bullshit on this.
    So why, when an agry man gets out of a pickup because of a traffic jam and nearly has an altercation with a woman are we willing to blame EA for HIS actions, rather than blaming the man who got hostile?

  9. Deep Thorn ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Another shining example of how EA is trying to hurt this world…  Maybe what they do is not on purpose, maybe they are really that stupid that they dont realize what will happen…  I guess I don’t doubt it…

  10. Icehawk says:

    I find myself wondering if EA bothered to acutally tell the govenment/city leaders in London that they were planning this little fiasco.   Honestly I rather doubt it.   Are the city leaders to blame?  Bad/narrow streets?  Or that EA took it upon themselves to promo their title?   Sorry but poor planning is not an excuse, EA should be help responsible.  Thankfully it sounds like there was a minimum of property damage or assaults. 

  11. Jackalman says:

    Seriously? I still don’t get it, can someone PLEASE explain to me what in the world is wrong with free gas!?

  12. Anonymous says:

    Didn’t you get the memo? People are not to be held resposible for their actions. Blame it on games. Blame it on the publishers. I once read this book about a serial killer. Do you think I can get away with it now and blame the author?

  13. Deep Thorn ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I don’t get why every country in the world is so stupid they don’t realize a possible minor solution.  Stagger start and end times when people go to work and come home so that they spend less time on the road, therefore, spend less money, and get to spend more time with friends/family.

    I don’t get how that is a hard concept.  Yes, it would only work for so long, but it could help while places build mass transit systems for places that dont have one, and improve mass transit for places that do have it.

  14. Anonymous says:

    LMAO! You’ve clearly never been to London. At rush hour the entire London road network is gridlocked. No, I’m not exaggerating. Every single road slows to a crawl. Any traffic reports would be utterly useless as they’d be directed people from one jam to another.

  15. Chuma says:

    I think you need to visit other countries.  Travelling broadens the mind, and would also allow you to see that road systems are not grids or 4 lane highways.  There are no "blocks" in london and often the one-way streets mean there is only a single way out.  One guy couldn’t get off his own DRIVEWAY for quarter of an hour with all the congestion…

  16. Matthew says:

    I think you’re picturing a highway, and you couldn’t be further from the truth. London is one of the most congested cities in the world. During rush hour, it’s a car park. Also, as a natural city it doesn’t have a grid-based road system or even the vaguest idea of blocks; it is a rabbit warren of twisting roads, one way systems, and islands. It simply isn’t the case that one road is blocked so you can just pick another. There are no long roads so the traffic report can’t guide you precisely, and you can’t see more than two junctions ahead so you don’t see the jam before you’re in it.

    Finsbury Park: http://maps.google.com/maps?q=finsbury+park&oe=UTF-8&ie=UTF8&cd=3&ll=51.574416,-0.084178&spn=0.015416,0.035877&t=k&z=15

    Some London traffic: http://farm1.static.flickr.com/25/67431859_c33432b2eb.jpg?v=0

    Central London street view for a good idea of the rabbit warren effect: http://news.jasonhawkes.com/archives/Lon018.jpg

  17. sheppy says:

    This London place sounds very interesting.  Tell me, does this mystical realm of London have Traffic Reports one can tune into on a radio station or better yet, other roads?  So that, if you see the congestion coming, since the rant is how it backed up for blocks, could one simply take another block or is it just that one narrow road than zig zags all through London?

    I’m asking because the ONLY time I have even been caught in a traffic jam was when flooding covered a highway and it was a 12 mile stretch between exits.  Even in larger areas, most jams are easily avoided so long as you know how to detour.  Is this simply impossible in London?

  18. Zero Beat ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    The only time anyone gets out of their car when they do something like this in the Des Moines area is when someone has a nearly empty tank, gets in line, waits, runs out of gas, and then has to have their car pushed to the pump.  There are always people willing to help out though.

  19. Brokenscope says:

    You mean things that seem to happen pretty frequently in some US cities? Radio stations and the like love doing gas giveaways and stuff.

  20. sheppy says:

    This promotion IS done constantly in the US.  To great effect as well.  In my area, it happens damn near monthly by one radio station or another and while their pumping your gas, they bring up bumper stickers, free CDs, put you on the air.  And once they are getting ready to end it all, they put someone near the end of the line to tell the newcomers the promotion isn’t accepting anyone else.  Is it a crowd?  It’s free gas, of course it’s a crowd.

    But this?  This is nuts and I NEVER heard of similar situations happening in the US.  In fact, the LA promotion of the same game was a rousing success.

  21. Anonymous says:

    The streets in London just aren’t large enough to have ‘a line of cars down the side of the street’.  They’re narrow and very busy.  There are queues on a normal day – a line as long as you suggest would shut down the routes through a significant proportion of the city.


  22. Jason says:

    What the hell city do you live in, PleasantVille? CuddlesBurg?  Living just outside of Boston I’ve seen no end to the amt. of road rage when gas stations do promotions like $0.25 off and such.  No one but the people who are done pumping gas are grateful.  The rest of us are pissed off that we’re stuck in traffic so someone can save $6.00 bucks on their purchase.  I’m not trying to sound critical or troll but the notion that we’re "more civilized" doesn’t really sit well with me.  Unless your post was meant to be ironical.  It’s hard to tell in forums sometimes.  

  23. Anonymous says:

    Just so you know – it was done in the US. And it is done in the US a LOT. This has actually happened twice in my city one for a bank doing a promotion and one for a supermarket doing a promotion (near Boston). There is a line of cars down the side of the street and it was like a 2 hour wait if you wanted the gas.


    But no one got mad.

    No one got out of their cars.

    I guess americans are just more civilized when it comes to free stuff – we don’t get angry; we get grateful.

  24. JustChris says:

    Yeah, I know people would stampede over things they don’t really need to go on their daily lives, like PS3s or the K-mart Blue Light specials…but gas is a commodity, as well as something most people would need every day. 

    If this promotion was done in the US it will probably be worse. We have less developed bus and railway systems, and sprawling highways and tiny suburbs have made it possible for someone to live 5 miles from the closest supermarket, and 30 miles from their job. Cars are very essential in that kind of lifestyle.

  25. Arashi says:

    You’d be suprised at what people would fight over.  I’m not saying free stuff is bad, but some immature people don’t care what it is – they know it’s free, and they WANT it for that fact.

  26. Anonymous says:

    This isn’t a common stunt in the UK. I’m British and I’ve never heard of a petrol station giving away free fuel before, ever. No one would have had a clue how to handle it.

  27. SJ Zero says:


    This is how ridiculously stupid our society has become; It’s an evil thing to give away free petrol.

    How DARE those ASSHOLES give away free petrol.




  28. sheppy says:

    Local radio stations here often do the whole free $10 of gas promotion.  I swear, it’s about one every couple months.  It always creates a traffic jams to get into the station but police are always on hand to handle issues as they arise (which they haven’t) and the trouble areas can be spotted and avoided from blocks away.

    Is it EA trying to grief the general population?  Or is it Europe somehow being incapable of handling a common promotion the US gets all the time.  Food for thought.  After all, I haven’t heard anything even remotely this bad in the LA promotion.  And this is LA.   Bloods, crips, gangland, street violence, or so my rap albums tell me.  How can THEY handle this yet it’s pandemonium in the UK?

  29. kurisu7885 (can't log in) says:

    "Petrol is expensive at the moment and people are having a hard time so we just wanted to do something for them."

    By doing something you prebably knew would create chaos, and by the accoutn I read above, nearly got a lady’s driver side window smashed in,

    So EA’s griefing the general public now

  30. Matthew says:

    Spot on: The problem is that traffic is terrible in London. Everyone who ever needs to care about traffic in London knows this, and knows that deliberately increasing traffic in a small area is a Very Bad Idea.

    You don’t feed a diabetic a pound of sugar and then blame them for not having found a cure first.

  31. Malygris says:

    So you’re blaming the consequences of an ill-conceived publicity stunt on the infrastructure of the city, rather than on the people who disregarded that infrastructure when they came up with this plan? Interesting approach. But since things are apparently quite peachy as long as corporate dumbasses aren’t injecting themselves into the mix, I think it’s a bit off the mark.


  32. Kirkburn ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Yes, let’s get a better infrastructure in London.

    How, exactly? Should be knock down some homes to make wider roads?

    Perhaps we could improve the tube system … oh, no, wait, it’s already one of the biggest and busiest in the world, and is already being improved.

    Smaller cars? Oh, we already do that too…

    So yes, you are going to be mauled by Brits, for lack of knowledge about London. 🙂

  33. Loudspeaker says:

    Ok so we blame the promoter and the promotion because traffic got snarled?  I think it would be more logical to focus on WHY the traffic was so congested in the first place…  Namely lack of infrastructure.  Ya know?  That thing politicians are supposed to deal with?

    The truth here is Lynn Featherstone probably already looks like an asshat to the general public and EA pulling this stunt and making things worse for people on her watch just makes her look like even MORE of an asshat.

    Now, before I get mauled by Brits here (yes that is a play on the story peeps :D), understand I am basing this on the story.  I don’t know Lynn Featherstone.  I’m simply looking at the facts at hand.  Those facts give me the perspective traffic is a big issue that EA just underscored with this promotion.

    "Volume helps to get a point across but sharp teeth are better."

  34. Anonymous Coward says:

    Absolutely hilarious.

    Also, EA games won’t give a damn what the British Parliament says, as it is a much larger entity than them. 😀

  35. Anonymous says:

    This free giveaway would be welcome in my neighborhood any day.  But I guess people in other countries are not road ragers and so easily aggrivated.  I mean really, use your f’ing head.  It’s just a traffic jam.

  36. Jerdak says:

    I think that’s the point.  It could have been caused by any number of reasons so why add another to the list?  I could park my car on the highway and pull out a lawn chair to try and get on the news.  Just because my fellow motorists could have been stopped for other reasons doesn’t make me less of an ass.  Plus if I found out I’m running late because some dbag parked it on the highway I’d be pissed too, regardless of the fact that it could just as easily have been a legitimate accident.

  37. Eville1 says:

    Not really. They were running a bit late. Some people got so uber pissed that they were running late that they became aggressive? I’d say that could happen for any reason. Didn’t have to be an EA event. It just so happens that it WAS an EA event. And it is nowhere NEAR yelling fire in a crowded theater. Not at all. That’s just a shit house analogy.

  38. Anonymous says:

    This is a bullshit argument, mainly because it created public chaos. It’s akin to going into a theater crowded with people, then screaming FIRE FIRE GET OUT NOW.

  39. Captain Sensible says:

    That’s not the point. EA’s marketing stunt almost caused a riot in one of the busiest cities in Europe, all for the sake of publicising a video game.

    I’m all for marketing, but not like this.

  40. Eville1 says:

    Oh boo fucking hoo. So you’re late once in your life to work. If you’ve never been late before and aren’t going to be after, I think your boss is going to be ok with that.

  41. Anonymous says:

    Was just down the road to me. Real mess, petrol is taxed through the roof here, so free petrol was bound to cause rows.

  42. Arashi says:

    …that could have been handled differently.  …and by differently, I mean that it sounds like the event coordinator(s) didn’t think this through.

  43. nightwng2000 says:

    Let’s see a list of other "free giveaways" (gas, beach bags, car washes, etc) that have caused problems and see how unique the situation REALLY was.  And how much the politicians complained about THOSE giveaways.


    NW2K Software

    Nightwng2000 has also updated his MySpace page: http://www.myspace.com/nightwing2000 Nightwng2000 is now admin to the group "Parents For Education, Not Legislation" on MySpace as http://groups.myspace.com/pfenl

  44. DorkmasterFlek says:

    I’m all for free giveaways as promotion, but this obviously wasn’t very well thought out at all.

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