Update: Free Fuel Hysteria at London Petrol Station: 'eerie foretaste ' of UK economy
Update: Call it fate, but the Monday after the free fuel give-away stunt, London's stock markets go down on a technical glitch.
EA's Free Gas Stunt Angers Politician, Police, Local ResidentsSeptember 5, 2008
A member of Great Britain's Parliament had harsh words for Electronic Arts after a marketing stunt forMercenaries 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. TheTelegraph 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.
How Britain can boom again
By Dan Roberts
Last Updated: 12:01am BST 07/09/2008
MI5 used to plan for civil emergencies on the assumption that British society was four square meals from anarchy: deprive the populace of food for 36 hours, and the law of the jungle takes over.
On Friday morning, I discovered it was only four bus stops away.
Less than half a mile from my front door, the daily schlep to work was halted by pandemonium. In true north London style, a group of advertising executives had commandeered a petrol station for the day to promote a computer game. Draped in camouflage netting and fake bandoliers, the merry pranksters were handing out £20,000 worth of free fuel to passing motorists. They hadn't banked on the jitteriness of credit crunch Britain.
The roads of Stroud Green were soon solid, as traffic queued for miles to get a piece of the action. Police were called and the stunt abandoned when it became clear the price of petrol was no joking matter.
One year on from the panic outside Northern Rock branches, it was an eerie foretaste of the direction our frazzled economy could be heading.
The British way of life is changing. Quips about stockpiling tins of baked beans would be funny too, were it not for the fact that supermarkets are already reporting a rise in sales. Before we know it, the £25 pinstripe suit launched at Aldi this week could become the season's fashion hit.
No corner of Britain is untouched by the changing economy: our diet, the cars we drive, the clothes we wear - all are affected by a frugal new spirit.
Even our Chancellor has progressed from burying his head in the sand to burying his head in his hands: warning these could be the worst conditions for 60 years. He may have overstated the case, but at least we all now agree on one thing: something serious is happening to the economy.
What is worrying is how few people are coming up with answers. The Government's ill-judged and ill-equipped rescue package for the housing market last week was about as reassuring as shouting "Don't panic, Mr Mainwaring!" during Dad's Army.
No political party - on either side of the Atlantic - has yet produced a convincing plan of action.
It's the day after the public relations stunt by video game makers Electronic Arts in North London. And the verdict? They get 10 out of 10 for picking media-hungry London, where any story is regurgetated like cow cud, to keep swathes of journalists and photographers employed. They also did what all good stunts do: they completely annoyed the powers-that-be. Drawing the ire of local member of parliament, Lynne Featherstone - a media-savvy MILF-babe herself - was genius. By the end of the day, even she was holding back on using the words Electronic Arts, for fear of giving them even more publicity.
And judging from comments posted on various blogs and websites, people are now buying the game because of the perceived generosity of a company that would give the punters some free petrol. Take note: this action is going to go down as a success.
The publicity stunt has now drawn the ire of local residents and politicians.
FREE PETROL STUNT 'DOWNRIGHT DANGEROUS'<
By Liam Creedon, PA<
A stunt in which free petrol was given away to promote a new computer game has today been criticised as "irresponsible and downright dangerous".<
Electronic Arts are giving away #20,000 worth of fuel to promote the game.<
As part of the stunt, EA took control of a garage in north London this morning and lured customers in with the promise of #40 worth of free fuel.<
The promotion resulted in gridlock with roads in the area clogged as rush-hour traffic was held up by drivers looking to fill up their tanks for free.<
Players of the game Mercenaries 2: World in Flames take on the role of a mercenary in Venezuela following a military coup in which petrol has become currency.<
EA decked out the Last Stop garage which lies between Stroud Green and Finsbury Park, in military camouflage material and parked an army jeep on the forecourt.<
Assistants dressed as soldiers carried mock machine guns as they doled out petrol to the customers.<
But the stunt caused fury amongst local residents and has angered politicians.<
Liberal Democrat MP for Hornsey and Wood Green, Lynne Featherstone, said: "Trying to recreate Venezuelan-style fuel riots on the streets of London is completely irresponsible and downright dangerous.<
"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."<
The scheme, which started at around 6.30 this morning, caused traffic chaos as the rush-hour developed.<
Queues of more than 40 cars snaked from the garage as more and more people arrived for their free fuel.<
Motorists who had become snarled up in the congestion, beeped their horns in frustration as they made their way past the queuing traffic at a snail's pace.<
One commuter had to be calmed down by the EA security team as he waited for ten minutes just to get out of his drive.<
"I just want to get to work" he bellowed as he sped off into the oncoming traffic.<
Local residents were less than impressed with the stunt.<
One woman who lives near the garage said: "What an extraordinary thing to do, it's totally irresponsible. I can't believe they've been allowed to do it.<
"This area is usually very quiet but look at it now, there's cars queuing everywhere. It's just creating unnecessary problems."<
But customers filling up for free were not concerned.<
Prince Davis 37, who queued patiently for a quarter of an hour for his free petrol, said: "This is a genius idea, whoever thought of this should be promoted.<
"I'll definitely be buying the game, you're never too old to play computer games."<
Louise Marchant, from Electronic Arts, said the scenes of queuing mimicked aspects of the game.<
She explained: "It's set in Venezuela, you play a mercenary and fuel is used as a currency."<
She denied the promotion was irresponsible, saying: "We've got security on hand to make sure that traffic is going one way.<
"Petrol prices are very relevant at the moment so we are hoping to start everyone's weekend in a positive way."<
There are reports of chaos at a petrol station which is giving away £20,000 worth of petrol.
Electronic Arts has taken over the Last Stop garage in Finsbury Park, north London, to promote the game Mercenaries 2: World in Flames.
More than 150 customers had taken advantage of the offer, which allows drivers to put up to £40-worth of fuel in their tanks free of charge.
The promotion will continue until the £20,000 of fuel runs out.
Security staff are on hand to control the traffic and deal with rowdy customers.
- More photos from the stunt at Flickr. Website: http://www.flickr.com/photos/15195144@N06/sets/72157613051396198/