A marketing stunt for the Facebook game Mafia Wars, which pasted fake $US25,000 bills onto San Francisco's footpaths, has the city's Department of Works steam cleaning them - and steaming mad.
The city attorney sent a letter to Zynga, which also makes FarmVille and other games for Facebook, threatening a lawsuit over the paste-job that slapped the funny money - which is some sweepstakes promo - on the footpaths. The Department of Public Works is tired of cleaning it up; each location requires a 45-minute steam cleaning job.
The costs of the cleanup are still being tabulated. Whatever that ends up being, it's probably well worth it to Zynga and cheaper by half than spreading word through paid advertisements. Local media, including the San Francisco Chronicle, already are all over it. For free.
That's probably why the lawsuit is being threatened. The city wants Zynga to hand over all of its information about plans for the campaign, including "emails, work orders, scope of work, contracts, marketing plans or other records - that show when and where the graffiti in San Francisco was placed, and by whom." They also want a proposal to "fully resolve the issue", because paying for a cleanup isn't enough.
"The City Attorney takes violations such as these very seriously and intends to pursue every available cause of action aggressively against Zynga for these illegal marketing tactics," the letter says.
Tough talk for a city whose downtown sights and smells include bum piss and turds left between parked cars.
Zynga Guerrilla Marketing Ploy Gets Legal Response [San Francisco Chronicle; image by S.F. Department of Public Works via Chronicle]