PR Trolling 'Ocean Stratagy' Out Of Business, Avenger Controller Maker Asks For Forgiveness

The PR tempest in a teapot born of one misused gamer and shockingly bad customer support seems to have mostly run its course, leaving a one-man PR firm in apparent shambles and a unique video game controller accessory struggling to survive.

The issue came to a light today when emails between reader Dave and Paul Christoforo, the president of PR firm Ocean Distribution, were sent around to a number of sites including Kotaku. In them, Christoforo antagonizes, name-calls and belittles a customer after being asked by Dave why his order for an Avenger controller was delayed.

The obnoxious response gets worse once Christoforo begins name-dropping websites including Kotaku, IGN and Penny Arcade. Eventually, Christoforo seemed to go nuclear, calling out most of the sites he originally said he was pals with and name calling folks including Penny Arcade's Mike Krahulik who proceeded to ban Christoforo permanently from PAX.

As news of the exchange began to spread, gamers began to attack by Christoforo and the Avenger controller.

Earlier today we reached both N-Controller and The Hand Media, the folks who handled marketing for the controller prior to Christoforo, for comment.

Christoforo, we're told, is no longer working with N-Control. Effective today, the company is now doing all of their marketing with a new marketing manager who works directly for the company.

"We apologise for our poor representation from Ocean Marketing," David Kotkin, the owner and inventor of Avenger Controller told Kotaku. "We wanted to give Paul a chance. He was rough around the edges, but he had drive and enthusiasm. However his behaviour was unprovoked, unnecessary, and unforgivable. We are no longer represented by Ocean Marketing."

Brandon Leidel, CEO and Director of Operations for The HAND Media, Inc., wasn't as kind to Christoforo and his outburst.

Leidel said that his company was initially the ones hired to market the new controller, something they did up until earlier this year. He said that The Hand Media found themselves increasingly having to deal with customer flak over delayed shipping, and that it was becoming overwhelming.

"Then Paul came in and said 'I know this guy at Gamestop. I know this guy at Best Buy," Leidel said. "They saw dollar signs and decided to start working with him. We decided to walk away from this because it was a nightmare dealing with their problems and this guy Paul."

Leidel describes Christoforo as a "rogue marketing guy" someone who operated without any rules and never checked in with The Hand Media about what he was doing.

"He was representing the company in a way I wasn't comfortable with," Leidel said. "I brought this up a few times and said I cant have this guy representing the company and not have any control."

Eventually, Leidel decided to walk away from what he called a lucrative marketing contract over Christoforo's behaviour.

N-Control's new marketing manager, Eli Schwartz, spent today trying to do damage control and deal with a flood of what he believes are unwarranted negative ratings for the Avenger on Amazon.

"At this point I'm just trying to point out that, what was said was someone who we hired, what he said should not reflect on the product itself," he said. "So far the Amazon rating on the Avenger has gone from 4 and 1/2 to 1 star in around 8 hours. None of the reviews are true, they all just appeared today out of pure hate trolling."

Schwartz added via Twitter that Christoforo is now "out of business."

The real victim here appears to be The Avenger controller, a product, that while slightly over-priced, was both an interesting new way to game and a solution for some disabled gamers.


Comments

    Paul deserves what he got. The controller doesn't.

      Agree completely. The controller has nothing to do with him, he done goofed and now the good guys are left to clean up his mess.

        Good guys? I'm not sure what they expected out of hiring someone who was "rough around the edges." I agree that the product itself doesn't deserve the negative press but the company cannot simply absolve itself from all responsibility of hiring a poorly skilled person and keeping him around until the kitchen got too hot by saying, "It's not our fault - it's his."

          I disagree.

          I think theres a really good chance that they didn't bother calling his past employers for references -my current boss never bothers when deciding on who to hire and it drives me bat shit crazy.

          The only way to ensure other companies are careful in selecting who they pay to represent their product and brand, and crucially, the person/s in charge of CRM, is for everyone to see this company suffer.

          When I am finally in charge of my company, I will take my responsibility very seriously. You can be sure I will be thorough in my selection process, clear in communicating the customer is who we are here to serve, and will promptly get rid of anyone who turns out to be a dick.

          It's a pitty so many current ceo's are so well paid, incompetent, lazy, and don't care how long they will have their jobs for.

      agreed, i hope the control gets more business now that its out of the scum bags hands.

    Christoforo could neither spell or consruct a sentence. I assumed that these qualities would prevent his employment.

      Worst time to typo 'construct' ;)

      That said, I agree. Not to mention if any future employee decides to google his name.

        Ha he. Dam thees phono. Itz a samsung Irony.

          Ah it seems to be almost a fundamental rule of the internet; he who notices a typo invariably makes another typo himself :-)

        I presume you mean employer? ;)

    Actually yeah I do feel sorry for the Company that makes the Controllers - they are kinda stuck in the middle of this.

    I still maintain that the manufacturing and distribution were so badly mismanaged that to say avenger are clean and innocent is just ignorant. Clearly there is a fledgling company that can not handle the demand for its product. And clearly is not giving information to its pr guys.

    Paul's struggle with the English language should have been a big enough warning sign for N-Control. Sure the review trolling and such isn't very nice but N-Control should have easily noticed that this guy was a total hack from the get-go.

    This guy was clearly a charlatan. I said he'd get fired, and he did. I'm surprised he wasn't sued for damages- and AS A PR GUY who get's your product HATED, he SHOULD be sued. He DID do a lot of damage to the company he represented, and they ARE losing prestige and probably sales- that can be somewhat recouped by suing him. Try it! So this is what happens when you try an immature internet-troll style when money is on the line. Not surprised.

    The conspiracy nut in me wonders whether Ocean Marketting is just some disposable company made to generate lots of bad publicity around the controller, but take all the blame, and that Paul Christoforo is some kind of fake persona.

      If it's a conspiracy to generate page views, this would be the second time this Paul guy has tried to do it (Originally created in June 2011):
      http://www.natesnetwork.com/Poor-customer-service

        Wow, so this guy was a repeat offender. I know that shouldn't surprise me, but how the hell did he get away with it the first damn time...

    I'm sick of seeing this guys mug plastered over the interwebs.

    Glad the guy got what he deserved.. But I don't think the people employing him are totally blameless... Over here in Oz he might even have grounds for unfair termination simply due to the fact that it seems that the parent company knew what this guy was like, had been warned about him previously and still let him be a contact point for customers... I mean sure having a douche running your marketing isn't the end of the world, provided he doesn't actually speak with customers directly.. But this guy clearly has a "Corporations vs the little guy" mentality (he even asks Gabe if he's picking the right side?!) and for any company to have a person like this as a contact point for customers will get what they deserve.

    I simply do not understand the comments saying that people feel sorry for N-Control or for their ownership. They hired this fool. With his command of the English language, I'm willing to bet it was pretty clear that he was a fool from day one. Not only that, their established marketing firm walks away and says "You've got a problem with your business processes and with this loose cannon named 'Paul' on your deck." I'm sorry but the N-Control leadership is clearly incompetent. They can't get their supply chain issues resolved. They hire some idiot to represent them. They ignore the warning signs and negative feedback they're receiving. They DESERVE to go out of business. in fact, the free-market system pretty much mandates that they should to go out of business and someone competent can revive the product from the ashes (assuming anyone actually wants to buy it).

      Was gonna rant, but you've covered what I wanted to say. Agree, +1 and all that jazz!

      +1 sums up my feelings.

      Yeap another +1 here.
      That's exactly what I was thinking too.

    They chose this man, got warned by another marketing company and it has caused a lot of damage to their brand and product. I like to think people are reasonable, I like to think that a polite response would have worked far better. But the threats just put it into a downhill spiral.

    It sounds like in the inital e-mails all this guy wanted was to know when he was getting the goods he paid for. And the answer before or after Christmas is pretty damn pathetic, a bit of humility and honesty would have gone down far better than what he did. Heck would a $10 refund really be to insane for the company to consider?

    You don't inspire confidence in your product by making people feel small and powerless. I'm glad people like Mike are there to stand beside people like Dave and say your not alone we will be there.

    One more thing, those positive Amazon reviews have been called into question, as the people who reviewed it, only did a single review and appear to have never purchased a thing.

    Man does bad at job, loses job. Just as it should be. Be warned, do not feel sympathy for him.

    This is what should have happened.

    I'm very impressed with how Pa, Kotaku, Ign and others have come forward and confronted this shyster on his bullshit name dropping to act big in front of a customer as a former customer service agent myself if I behaved even a tenth as bad as this moron did I could expect to lose my job on the spot. This kind of widespread support for "the little guy" makes me very happy. Good on you Kotaku, ign and Pa for showing this idiot that just because you "have a bad day" it is not an excuse for treating the people who pay your wage like shit. I honestly hope this idiot ends up flipping burgers. Although I imagine he'd get that wrong and end up verbally abusing the customers there, too.

      At this point, Pa, Kotaku, IGN and the rest would be bonkers to actually come forward and support this snot rag's name dropping, even if it were true. I don't believe for a second that Paul knew even one of the names he tried dropping in his messages, but let's be realistic about how public press works.

    I think this PR guy has done his job brilliantly. I (and i'm sure many many others) had never heard of the Avenger controller before this day.

      Except he's cost them orders...this isn't a "any publicity is good publicity" situation. This is a "bad pr means less sales" situation.

      So no, he's done a terrible job.

        no any publicity IS good publicity for the avenger controller. because now they are wiping their hands clean of paul.

        and many millions now know about a controller they didn't know about previously.

    Am I the only person who thinks this story is way too stupid to even be on here? I mean this is a news website and the best story is some bitch-fight over a shonky controller deal? I just don't get it

    I kinda feel for the guy... Not because he didn't deserve what he got for being a terrible PR guy and generally an ass, but that he doesn't deserve FRONT PAGE NEWS SCANDAL! FOLLOW THE INTERNET FIGHT AS IT HAPPENS!

    The guy seemed a little unstable to me. I would not be serprised if the next story is about Paul shooting himself in the head. Now Im not saying the guy should keep being a PR guy but for that last little bit of 2011 poor paul is now the most hated guy on the internet.

    Besides he was doing PR for an Xbox thing.....those guys on Xbox live seem to like dicks??

    Prime example on how to make yourself unemployable within a very short time-frame. This douchebag has reaped what he has sewn. Do like the fact that Gabe came to Dave's defence and essentially started this guys demise, however he was already on that path when he started getting all self righteous. Fair enough you know people, but that doesn't mean they know you and would stick up for you when you're being, for lack of a better word, an asshole, towards a loyal and paid customer merely seeking a well warranted explanation as to why the product he was promised within a certain timeframe, was not delivered.

    Hope this goes as a costly lesson for any PR or anyone, that you cannot, in this day and age of technology and internet accountability, abuse the living shit out of someone for no reason from a position of influence and get away with it. Good on you Dave.

    This guy was in charge of marketing. Well they got marketing.

    Besides the horrible way he treated his customers the worst part about this entire situation is that I now know about the N-Control Avenger. Even though I don't console game many other people do and are now aware of this product through his douchebaggery.

    /sadface

    their promotion to their products got old and it stagnated...
    i must say "these" guys has done a very good job!!! no seriously , his rouge "method" has worked quite well!!! i mean c'mon you guys!! everyone here is dropping their every 2 cents!! since youre exposed to it do youreselves a favour and get yourselves a controller add-on!!!

    Dear Ocean Marketing - FUCK YOU IN THE NECK!!!!

    Christoforo was right about one thing; That all of this would "blow over in a week"... Too bad he failed to see that the tornado of responses would also sweep away his company and reputation.

    Farkin' love it!!!

    http://art.penny-arcade.com/photos/i-G4Zgvkg/0/L/i-G4Zgvkg-XL.jpg

    He either won trolling, or lost it terribly.
    I cant figure it out.

    Who cares? This whole little drama just isn't that interesting. Let it go.

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now