I’m unusually fascinated by this video of Eric Hirshberg, CEO of Activision. He was the man who had to deal with Kotaku‘s massive scoop of Modern Warfare 3 information in May Last year. Immediately following the leak Activision released trailers of the game. It wasn’t coincidence: Activision treated the leak as the launch board for their marketing campaign.
“Like it or not, our launch just started”, Hirshberg told the Modern Warfare 3 team. “Our fans didn’t do anything wrong. They’re having a great day! They’re really interested in this game, they really want to know what happened, they’re poring over all the details trying to figure out what’s true and what’s not.”
Which is a remarkably human attitude for a company with the reputation of Activision. Rather than treating the leak like it had to be fought, they went with the wave of interest it created. It could be seen as a cynical exercise, and obviously advertising is a cynical exercise, but in admitting that it occurred and viewing the public interest as a positive they managed to turn the situation around. It sort of makes a mockery of all those carefully constructed PR plans that we have to negotiate, although I’d expect it would take a company the size of Activision to pull it off.