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Ouya: Marketing, PR execs sound off on controversial ad

Insiders discuss whether the situation is all that bad, and what Ouya should do next

Ouya's animated ad featuring a vomiting gamer has garnered a great deal of negative comments since it briefly appeared on Ouya's YouTube channel earlier this week. The [a]list daily reached out to some PR and marketing veterans in the game industry to get their reactions and advice for Ouya.

Scott Steinberg, head of video game consulting firm TechSavvy, offers some straightforward advice to Ouya. "Ouya's best strategy at this point is to acknowledge, explain, address and apologize for the issue. As a company, it needs to acknowledge that there's a disconnect, explain how the issue occurred, address viewers' concerns, and apologize for the mistake," said Steinberg.

Another marketing executive who's been in the game industry for many years wonders about the way the ad is targeted. "This doesn't appear to be part of a market research test. The ad is pretty much done, other than perhaps an end slate and call to action. BUY NOW!," said the exec, who wished not to be named. "It completely misses the consumer benefit part of the proposition and relies solely on gamers' 'disgust' over bad and remade games that aren't different from their predecessors. Everyone is talking about a bad ad and there's nothing in it that sets Ouya apart from the competition. They're using words like amateur, crass, gross, disgusting...nothing that you'd want your brand associated with. They could have talked about their $99 price point, their Android operating system, their FREE games that will never burn your wallet, their appeal to the common man...anything."

"Everyone is talking about a bad ad and there's nothing in it that sets Ouya apart from the competition"

From a PR standpoint, Ouya's ad may not be all bad news. "Anytime people are talking about you, people are talking about you. So that's good, right?" said a veteran PR executive who has dealt with a wide range of games with a variety of publishers. "Particularly when everyone is mostly talking about your two competitors (to be kind), who are about to outspend in marketing the entire net worth of your company by a factor of 10X."

There's nothing like some examples from the history of video game advertising to put Ouya's ad into perspective. "The spot itself reminds me of 90's-era game advertising (especially the stuff that came out of the UK), where ads were taken to controversial eXXXtremes in order to seem 'authentic' or grab the attention of the mysterious gamer but really just came across as eye-rolling, Poochie-style cultural whiffs," said the PR exec, citing numerous examples. "Does it fall flat? Absolutely. But this also explains why it wasn't front and center on Ouya's website, Facebook page, YouTube channel, Twitter account, Vine, Vimeo, Instagram, etc."

See more insider reactions on our sister site, the [a]list daily.

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Steve Peterson

Contributor/[a]list daily senior editor

Steve Peterson has been in the game business for 30 years now as a designer (co-designer of the Champions RPG among others), a marketer (for various software companies) and a lecturer. Follow him on Twitter @20thLevel.