Automakers and car dealerships have used the old "Free Gas" promotion to good effect, so it's not surprising that companies outside the industry might try it, too. Electronic Arts gave it a go recently to promote its new Mercenaries 2
video game in the UK by taking over a gas station in North London and giving away £20,000 ($35,000) worth of free gas. The free fuel was pumped by actors wearing military garb (with bandoliers!) in £40 increments to any who drove up. While those receiving the priceless petrol were thrilled, area residents and motorists just trying to drive by called the PR stunt "irresponsible and dangerous". Locals had their driveways blocked for hours and were forced to listen to a symphony of horns from exasperated drivers trying to negotiate the giant queue of cars. Beginning at 6:30 in the morning, the promo was supposed to go on until all £20,000 worth of gas had been pumped, but authorities shut it down just four hours later. While EA may have peeved the locals, news of its blunder has spread across the web like wildfire and given Mercs 2 more free exposure than it would've gotten otherwise.