How EA Sports turned a glitch into a grace (by walking on water)
Tiger gets ready to make a miracle happen.
A few weeks ago I discussed the whole Bike Hero controversy that left a lot of the Youtube crowd with a bad taste in their mouths. A lot of people felt that they were being manipulated by the ad agency, not respected. So I got to thinking, on the flip side, what brand’s have been able to speak to the online community and successfully gain their respect?
The first example that came to my mind was EA Sports with their video game Tiger Woods PGA Tour 08.
Here’s the story: Last year, a few gamers found a glitch in Tiger Woods PGA Tour 08 that allowed you to actually walk on water, ala Jesus. They posted the video online and the online game community started passing around and laughing at this “Jesus Shot”
So glitch was found and exposed online. What did EA Sports decide to do? They could’ve A) ignored it, or B) admitted they made a minor mistake. Most companies would’ve just gone with A. But instead, EA Sports decided to turn this small embarassment into a big opportunity.
They went with option C) Play along.
EA Sports ended up releasing this response video a few months ago (hmm, just in time for the release of PGA Tour 09…) and the online gaming community has been eating it up:
“It’s not a glitch. He’s just that good.” Tell me you watched that and didn’t smile. Not even the tiniest bit? I don’t believe you.
The video’s racked up 2.5 million hits so far and with comments like, “Best fan response ever!” and “Thumbs up for their advertising agency and for the fella in the marketing department who had the balls to approve it.”
It’s not hard to see why the response has been so positive. EA Sports, this huge video game corporation, actually listened to their fans and responded with a clever video starring the real Tiger Woods himself? Wow, you’ve just won some points in my book.
What EA Sports did different is that they actually interacted with their audience, instead of just talking at them. So many companies just treat the online community as a passive audience at which they can yell their message to. To them, the online audience only exists as a “view count” and as long as they get more views, that’s all that matters.
EA Sports instead took the time to understand their fans and talk to them in their own language. They weren’t broadcasting a message, they were having a two-way dialogue. By speaking their consumers’ language and not just using them to get a higher view count, EA Sports bonded with their fans. They gained their respect. They built a relationship.
And it really makes sense, doesn’t it? I mean, a successful brand is one where there’s mutual trust and respect, not unlike a succesful relationship. Who would you rather be friends with – the guy shouting at you from a distant podium, or the guy having an actual conversation with you in your living room? I know my answer, but hey, whatever floats your boat.