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Activision Publishing CEO Eric Hirshberg explains how the company turned "lemons into lemonade" by using the Modern Warfare 3 information leak to strengthen its marketing campaign.

Frank Cifaldi, Contributor

May 18, 2011

2 Min Read

Last week's leak of information and assets related to the upcoming Modern Warfare 3 put publisher Activision in an awkward situation, but the company says it was able to leverage the unforeseen event and turn it into a marketing opportunity. "There are ways that you can respond that actually turn the lemons into lemonade," Activision Publishing CEO Eric Hirshberg said in an interview with Joystiq on Wednesday. "And that's what we tried to do [the day of the leak]." According to Hirshberg, the company attempted to "see through the lens of [its] fans," who became excited about the game because of the leak. Ultimately, the company responded by releasing assets on its own, in the form of a series of teaser clips that were originally planned to be unveiled a couple of weeks from then. The result was that the four video clips generated 3 million combined views on YouTube in 48 hours. By comparison, said Hirshberg, the first video assets for the last two games in the series -- Modern Warfare 2 and Black Ops -- generated 61,000 and 89,000 in their first 48 hours, respectively. "Responding is different than reacting or overreacting, or not reacting," explained Hirshberg. "Showing a willingness to be a part of the connected, digital, social universe we live in as a company is very powerful." "We kept coming back to the fans, to the people who love this game; who are just waiting; for whom that day was just a really cool day," he added, saying that the company decided that if there is going to be dialogue about its game, "we want it to be between us and our fans and not between the leakers and our fans." "Now, people aren't consumers of brands anymore; they're fans of brands," Hirshberg added, saying that "social media is a huge shift in the way brands connect with consumers." As before, the company says that not all of the information from the leaks is accurate.

About the Author(s)

Frank Cifaldi


Frank Cifaldi is a freelance writer and contributing news editor at Gamasutra. His past credentials include being senior editor at 1UP.com, editorial director and community manager for Turner Broadcasting's GameTap games-on-demand service, and a contributing author to publications that include Edge, Wired, Nintendo Official Magazine UK and GamesIndustry.biz, among others. He can be reached at [email protected].

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