After Hitman‘s ‘sexy nun’ trailer only caused complaints over sexism (as well as a massive move away from the series’ roots), Square Enix decided to bring some marketing talent on board. They hired BAFTA winning creative agency Ralph to help them come up with a way to market Hitman Absolution, leading to the creation of the Facebook app ‘Hire Hitman‘.
In the app you could pick someone from your friendlist, choose a reason for killing them such as “She’s cheating on her partner” and then make it easier for Agent 47 to identify the individual with rather cruel descriptive terms like “her small tits, her ginger hair, her strange odor, her muffin top, her hairy legs” or the slightly harder to check “his small penis”. The app then magically created a video of 47 holding a picture from the user’s account before killing them. This was then sent to the user with a message from you saying that you’d hope they’d die.
After the launch, fears were raised about how the app could be used for cyber bullying, a growing problem among today’s youth, as well as just the general tastelessness of insulting someone’s breast size before sending them a virtual death threat. Square Enix quickly realized that any publicity probably isn’t actually good publicity, and removed the app, saying in a press release:
Earlier today we launched an app based around Hitman: Absolution that allowed you to place virtual hits on your Facebook friends. Those hits would only be viewable by the recipient and could only be sent to people who were confirmed friends.
We were wide of the mark with the app and following feedback from the community we decided the best thing to do was remove it completely and quickly. This we’ve now done.
We’re sorry for any offence caused by this.
But do you see a problem with the app? Most publications have come out criticizing the publisher over the very real horrors of cyber bullying, but some commenters have seen this as simply a tongue-in-cheek promotion that most people wouldn’t take seriously if they received it. Either way, we prefer the ad we made.