by Chris Shugart
If there’s such a thing as a Truth in Advertising Award, I nominate the Dead Space 2 commercial that bluntly declares that your mom will hate it. The ad shows distraught, disgruntled, and disgusted mothers expressing their objections to the horror shooter game that involves, among other things, dismembering reanimated human corpses called Necromorphs.
The TV commercial is more than just a gimmick. The moms featured in the ad are from a focus group of honest to goodness real moms each reacting to the virtual video carnage. In fact game developer/distributor Visceral Games proudly declares, “Over 200 moms were subjected to some of the most disturbing footage in video game history.”
A video game that claims to upset disapproving mothers is no idle boast. The Entertainment Software Rating Board has rated the game “M” which means it has “content that may be suitable for persons ages 17 and older.” The rating also suggests that such games in this category “may contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.”
Now I’m not necessarily convinced that such marketing candor will be ultimately successful, but Visceral Games certainly thinks so. They’re sponsoring a Your Mom Hates This Sweepstakes that asks players to record their own moms’ reaction and post it on Twitter to win a Play Station 3. One tweet reports that their mom threw up after viewing the gory mayhem. If nothing else, I guess you could say that the Dead Space 2 promotion has added a new dimension to the idea of “going viral.”
It’s hardly the first time an advertiser has taken a negative and turned it into a positive. And the strategy here is neither mysterious nor complicated. It’s a simple message that’s resonated with adolescents since the beginning of civilization: If your mom hates it, it must be cool.