Kill a Biker, Win a Sony Playstation

The latest media debacle going around the Internet lately is an online advertisement that asks people to "Shoot the Biker" and get...

The latest media debacle going around the Internet lately is an online advertisement that asks people to "Shoot the Biker" and get a free Sony Playstation. The ad shows a guy riding a motorcycle, and you're supposed to be a policeman pointing a gun. You use your mouse to position the crosshairs over the biker, and pull the trigger.

You can see the ad live here.

If you manage to hit the biker, you get to see him explode into flying chunks of red. And then, you are taken to the website of "yoursmartrewards.com", where you fill out a short form, and begin the process of claiming your free Sony Playstation. If you were to read fine print, you'd see that you have to participate in their consumer feedback program, in order to get the prize.

Being a biker, I'm rather disappointed to see that media creators saw fit to use the image of a biker as a symbol of hatred. I suppose many just see it as fun, and I imagine many bikers will see it as harmless fun. I doubt anyone will get a real gun and go out shooting bikers.

On the other hand, this type of advertisement follows in the footsteps of the most successful type of Internet advertising in the history of Internet advertising. It all started with the "Punch the Monkey" ad, where you see this cartoon monkey running around, and you control a boxing glove with your mouse. The ad was so irresistable, that it fetched click-through rates of as much as 50%. It got duplicated into a variety of other forms from "Shoot the Bear", to "Zap the Alien", to "Slap the Ho", and now "Shoot the Biker".

I realize there are other violent pieces of media getting published. Video games make fun out of killing people, innocent people even. Movies and music today seem to glorify the killing of innocent people. So why just criticize an Internet ad, when I should criticize everything else out there?

The short answer is that I don't tolerate any kind of violence, or glorification thereof. But this advertisement goes too far, in that it promises to reward you with a Sony Playstation if you are successful in shooting the biker. At least with a video game, where you kill innocent people, you don't receive free prizes in the mail. But this advertisement promises that you will. That's the difference.

What if you saw a billboard, posted outside, that said "Bring us a dead muslim, and win a free Hawaiian Vacation"? Or what if the Democratic Party took out a television commercial imploring people to "Slap a Republican, and we'll give you free NASCAR tickets"? Since when do advertisers start rewarding people for acting out violent deeds?

These advertisers might respond by saying, "Well, we didn't really mean for people to do these things, it was just meant to catch people's attention, it was just a joke". That's exactly what Yoursmartrewards.com would say about the "Shoot the Biker" ad. Where do we draw the line between fun and games, and taking matters seriously?

I'd suggest writing some e-mails to the following recipients, and let them know that we won't tolerate rewarding people for killing bikers, or killing anyone for that matter.

Yoursmartrewards.com (the folks who created the ad)
http://yoursmartrewards.com/cs/?user_gift_id=&promo_name=

Fastclick.com (the company distributing the ad across the Internet)
http://www.fastclick.com/contact.html

Sony Computer Entertainment
919 East Hillsdale Boulevard
Foster City CA 94404
(650) 655-8000

I called Sony, and asked to speak to someone in Marketing. I got a voice mail, but left a message. I think the best way to attack this is to go to Sony, and complain that these other companies are using their Playstation product and brand to reward people for violence.

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