10 tech PR stunts that spectacularly failed

6. EA encourages touching of women

At Comic Con this year, EA came up with a sleazy idea to promote Dante's Inferno. The company asked attendees to commit an "act of lust" with its booth babes and email or tweet in pictures to win dinner with a babe. Nice, yet somewhat disturbing. EA naturally only meant people to take photos, but it was a stunt sure to end really, really well and not at all get itself branded as sexist.

EA stunt

[Image credit: ArsTechnica]

7. Gates releases the bees

This was really, really stupid. Bill Gates unintentionally released live mosquitoes during his speech at the Technology, Entertainment and Design (TED) conference in California. A container was supposed to be opened but the insects themselves were supposed to be kept under a further pane of glass. Particularly as attendees to the $2,000-each charity dinner had to run for cover and some even ended up with minor injuries. After, Gates said "well, that wasn't supposed to happen", adding that the stunt was designed to draw attention to hardships faced in developing countries. Angelina Jolie was among those who were stung.

8. Sony paints pretty pictures

Back in 2005, Sony hired graffiti artists to spray-paint major US city streets with pictures of children playing with the PSP. But the street art drew painted responses – some witty, some less so. According to Wired, the responses ranged from a "four-line ditty slamming Sony" to "get out of my city." Other critics suggested Sony was exploiting the artists. And that wasn't the only PSP fail.

9. Vodafone forced to apologise for streakers

Whoever thought this would be a good idea? At a New Zealand and Australia rugby match in 2002, two streakers invaded the pitch. Only they were wearing Vodafone logos. Harmless fun? Well perhaps, but the cops got involved (as it's against the law y'know) and arrested the offenders before the game had ended. Grahame Maher, the Vodafone Australia chief, had to apologise after he admitted that he had agreed to pay any fines as a result of the publicity. According to the BBC, Vodafone NZ also had to donate NZ$100,000 (£30,000) to a sports injury campaign.


10. Virgin gets rude Branson illos

A B3ta.com competition was supposed to help Virgin go viral but instead resulted in Richard Branson being targeted with a series of unsavoury images. The multi-tasking company promised Xbox 360s and PSPs as prizes and wanted pictures on the theme of "what would happen if you said 'yes' to everything?" according to The Register. Such temptation.



Dan (Twitter, Google+) is TechRadar's Former Deputy Editor and is now in charge at our sister site T3.com. Covering all things computing, internet and mobile he's a seasoned regular at major tech shows such as CES, IFA and Mobile World Congress. Dan has also been a tech expert for many outlets including BBC Radio 4, 5Live and the World Service, The Sun and ITV News.