Wednesday, March 2, 2011

THOUGHTS ON A PROMOTION: At 12:30 this afternoon, thousands of red balloons filled the sky above San Francisco.

Me: That looks kind of cool.
San Franciscans generally: I do not see what you are talking about because when I am outside I look only at my iPhone and whatever you're talking about has not yet hit my Twitter feed.
San Francisco: I do not recall issuing a permit for this.
Sanitation Worker: Fuck.
Bird: Choke.
Me: I wonder what this is a promotion for.
Marketer: Yes!
Balloon: Being unmarked, I will not tell you.
Marketer: Oops.
Me: Looked cooler two minutes ago when the balloons were in the sky, not on the ground and in the bay.
Fish: Choke.


  1. According (ironically) to my Twitter feed, it was an exceedingly ill-concieved promotion for GameStop.

  2. Joseph J. Finn4:49 PM

    Looks like it, Matt.  Not a good day for them; they're also facing a class-action lawsuit for privacy law violation as well.

  3. spacewoman5:39 PM

    I'm a few blocks downwind, and I saw only one red balloon, floating by for what seemed like forever, against a bleak gray day, surrounded by gray and brown deserted-looking buildings.  So it was like, a lot artsier on this side of Market Street, is what I'm trying to say.

    I thought we weren't releasing hordes of balloons any more because of the choke thing you mentioned?

  4. For a time in the 90s I worked on a car lot, and as everyone knows, people won't buy cars unless the lot is festooned with helium filled balloons. City ordinance (Santa Monica) required that every balloon be popped each night before closing, to prevent the risk that balloons might get loose and cause problems for fish and fowl.

    Also, during the 1984 Olympics there was a good sized blackout caused by the mylar balloons used during opening ceremonies, and if you do a search on "mylar blackout" you'll see stories pop up all over the place.

    This is a problem that will be a thing of the past within 50 years, though, as the supply of cheap helium is finite (until we can economically harvest and transport the massive quantities found in the local gas giants, or even the moon)

  5. isaac_spaceman6:13 PM

    These pictures really don't tell the story.  There were a LOT of balloons.  When they were in the air, it looked like there were little ad tags attached to them, but when I went outside, it was just balloons.  Awful, awful, awful promotion. 

    Why do PR and marketing firms think they can do things like this?  Let's throw a bunch of shit on the ground and not pick it up.  Let's spray-paint our client's logo on the sidewalks.  No, officer, it's not littering or graffiti, because we're getting paid for it.  Right? 

    I know, I know -- because they can.

  6. spacewoman7:44 PM

    I'll file that under "why do smokers think they're not littering when they hurl flaming cancer on the ground?"

  7. According to SFist, it's a promotion by software publisher THQ for their upcoming game Homefront. Here's THQ's statement on the matter (as found in the linked article)

    "The balloons released at the Homefront rally event today were made from a 100% organic product and are 100% biodegradable. The balloons have no history of causing any environmental pollution on land or in water. Although we're confident that there will be no harm to the environment, we've retained a clean up crew to remove any potential lingering debris. This was a THQ sponsored promotion and GameStop had no involvement, whatsoever."

    As far as the game Homefront goes, seems like they're attempting to distract from a mediocre shooter with lots of sensationalistic stunts and rhetoric.

  8. Eric J.8:56 PM

    I'll see your red balloon and raise you another 98:

  9. Is the 100% organic product rubber?  Isn't it less biodegradeable once its all stretchy and vulcanized and ready to be a ballon?  Naturally they had no history of causing environmental pollution on land or water BEFORE they were strewn all over the land and water.  Now however...  good luck to your clean up crew.

  10. isaac_spaceman12:53 PM

    They say the balloons were soy-based.  They seemed pretty rubbery to me, but I've never knowingly felt a soy-based balloon, so what do I know?  Still, when I'm done with my take-out food, even if it came in a 100% biodegradable paper container with a 100% biodegradable potato-based fork, I still don't tend to drop it on the ground, throw it in the bay, or hurl it at passing traffic. 

  11. 1)  I did not intend for my comment above to be all ow-my-eyes bold.  Apologies.

    2)  I will believe the balloons are soy-based if and when a twelve-man table from the THQ marketing department is seen to wolf down a tray of veggie wraps held together by them.

  12. 3)  A google shopping search for "soy-based balloons" returns no hits for actual balloons.
    4)  A google web search for same returns hits only for the THQ littering fiasco.
    5)  A joke about shovels and rakes and implements of destruction may be overdue.