C|Net reports that the citizens of San Francisco are apparently ticked off at THQ - and by extension its partner GameStop - for releasing hundreds of balloons into the sky as part of a mock protest of North Korea - part of a marketing ploy for its new game Homefront. The balloon release happened during the Game Developers Conference. Many of the balloons had a postcard-size flyer attached to it advertising the game. People in the downtown area saw the balloons soaring in the sky, but were disgusted as they watched them land in the San Francisco Bay. That is when some residents began to express their anger. The anger was aimed at GameStop, which was a promotional partner with THQ and whose name appeared on the balloons.
People took to Facebook and Twitter to give the company a piece of their minds. Most were upset at all the balloons littering the bay. GameStop defended itself, claiming that it knew nothing about all the balloons until THQ let them loose that day. Of course, we knew yesterday that THQ planned on doing this, so how GameStop didn't have any prior knowledge is pretty baffling. Here is what the company said:
"We understand the concerns consumers have regarding the impact balloons can have on the environment," GameStop said in the statement. "However, the balloon drop stunt in San Francisco was created by THQ, the publisher of Homefront, and GameStop had no prior knowledge of it. THQ has since informed us that they released soy-based, biodegradable balloons."
THQ also responded to the anger by saying that the balloons were one-hundred percent biodegradable and that residents didn't need to worry about any environmental impact:
"The balloons that were released are completely biodegradable," said Julia MacMedan, vice president of corporate communications for THQ. "They start the process of biodegrading as soon as they're blown up with the helium. There should not be any environmental concerns."
"Because the balloons are biodegradable, [people] should not be concerned about any environmental impact from the balloon release," she added.
"The balloons released at the Homefront rally event today were made from a 100 percent organic product and are 100 percent biodegradable," THQ said in a statement. "The balloons have no history of causing any environmental pollution on land or in water. Although we're confident that there will be no harm to the environment, we've retained a cleanup crew to remove any potential lingering debris. This was a THQ sponsored promotion and GameStop had no involvement, whatsoever."
Nevertheless environmentalists were not appeased by statements from either company:
"It's still trash," said Ann Bauer, the director of education at The Marine Mammal Center in nearby Sausalito, California. "It's biodegradable over time, but a bird can still get entangled in it right now. A sea lion could be curious about it, bite it and swallow it. It could clog their stomach and cause them to die--right now. Biodegradable takes time to happen."
The balloon release might also be illegal:
"The (California) Fish and Game code 5652 prohibits littering balloons into state waters," Patrick Foy, a spokesman for the California Department of Fish and Game, said in an e-mail to C| Net. "There are plenty of written stories about the problems associated with the release of balloons and when they are ingested."
Source, image credit: C|Net