Activision CEO Eric Hirshberg found ways to make the most of the massive embargo break which spilled Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 information ahead of a strict marketing plan.
Speaking at Advertising Age’s Creativity and Technology event at CES 2012, Hirshberg discussed how he addressed staff in the wake of Kotaku’s May scoop on Modern Warfare 3.
“I said, like it or not our launch just started. And it wasn’t on our time table, and we didn’t instigate it, but it’s out there folks, and we can’t put it back in,” the CEO remembered.
“Our fans didn’t do anything wrong today. They’re having a great day. They’re really interested in the game. They’re poring over all the details trying to figure out what’s true and what’s not.
“We weren’t ready for this. But we’ve got to deal with it.”
Hirshberg said the wrong way to have dealt with the leak would have been to “let the process of figuring out how the leak happened be the public face” of Activision’s response, describing that as a “corporate silverback gorilla mode”.
Instead, Hirshberg and his team tried to turn the situation around, asking themselves – “if this leak had never happened, we would never have been able to…?” in order to transforms a “crisis into an opportunity”.
Activision chose to communicate with fans, messaging regret over the leak, with Hirshberg describing social networks as a blessing. The team had planned to launch a commercial TV campaign in about four week’s time, but instead, immediately release the teasers directly to its Facebook and Twitter followers.
“Let’s just be straight with people. let’s just tell ’em what happened,” Hirshberg said. “And then let’s lean into it.
“A little fire of interest about our game got started today, and on most other days of the year we would come in and be like, hey, everyone’s on the Internet talking about us, and that would be a good thing, right? Why is it because we didn’t instigate it and control it, that it’s instantly a bad thing?
“So we took that fire and we poured gas on it.”
You can watch Hirshberg’s entire speech here.