Strange as it reads, that headline is accurate. “When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro,” sayeth the late, great patron saint of off-the-rails-ness Hunter Thompson. And in a world of super-serious, VC fueled start-ups with humorless PR people, it sure is refreshing to see the mobile media world veer into Thompsonland.
Restaurant chain Houlihan's is offering to give away a free appetizer, their Jumbo Stuffed ‘Shroom, on March 24 if the discontinued mobile game “Flappy Bird” is brought back to market.
As all mobilistas know by now, the infamously frustrating and wildly popular “Flappy Birds” game got yanked by its creator Dong Nguyen last weekend after his vague and cryptic Tweets about not being able to take it anymore. Huh, the world asked. In an interview with Forbes Nguyen revealed that he was overwhelmed by talk of player frustration and addiction. As well, the attention and notoriety brought on by the game's success was distracting and troubling to the young designer.
Some libertarians among us may wonder at this developer deciding for the rest of us what we can and can't play. But after grossing up to $50,000 a day by some calculations, it is hard not to admire a guy who drops such a profitable game as a matter of conscience. I suspect he is overeacting or taking too literally some of the comments and videos being posted online. Hypersensitive as the guy may be, and I take him at his word, there is something admirable here. It is a quaint reminder that the fame and riches that much of the industry chases may not really suit everyone.
So as if to remind us that the world of marketing and media hype Nguyen is escaping is sometimes worth running from, Houlihan's decides to draft off the episode with a ploy that promotes their ‘Shroom appetizer. They even have a petition online for people to sign, urging Nguyen to reinstate “Flappy Bird.” They even put a deadline on when the app should be reinstated -- March 10. So let's get this straight. This young Vietnamese developer, who is understandably taken aback by worldwide fame Western style, needs an American brand to add to the din with a petition? Exactly what kind of mushrooms are they ingesting over there?
And the whole ploy is really just a play on the restaurant world's new shorthand for appetizers -- apps. Get it? The SVP of marketing quips in the canned press release: “"We understand the responsibility that comes with offering addictive apps…at Houlihan's we offer lots of them."
Oh, puleeze! Gag me with a shroom!