The successful marketing of a new mobile game is by no means an easy task, especially when you’re just a small team with limited funds like Australian developer Gnomic Studios. But that doesn’t make the growing need to get your game out there for all to see any less important. So instead of emptying their wallets to buy all sorts of flashy advertisements for their colorful new action game Square Off, the creative minds at Gnomic did the next best thing: they asked real people to help stop a real alien invasion.
On December 18th, 2013, the developer posted a fake advertisement in the “Volunteer” section of Gumtree, under the headline “Volunteers needed to suppress an Alien invasion.” The fake posting had been written under the fictional guise of alien research extraordinaire Professor Claus von Zwerg, calling for anyone who was interested in saving mankind from the incoming invasion, and was accompanied by some ancient and conspiracy-ridden images taken throughout all of history.
Gnomic Studios’ fake volunteer ad on Gumtree.
To make the whole thing just that more believable, Gnomic Studios even went as far as to create a fake LinkedIn account for Professor Claus von Zwerg, which you can view (and connect with!) right over here. They even bought old Claus his own mobile number, and recorded a fake voicemail message directing all callers and wannabe heroes to a micro page on the developer’s website.
Once the fake listing on Gumtree went live, Gnomic Studios saw the total number of views rise into the hundreds after only 24 hours, with 10% of visitors even taking the extra step to visit the Gnomic website. Michal Napora of Gnomic Studios told Gamezebo that the studio has reached out and tried to explain the situation to most of the people who professed an interest in the ad, although they are still waiting to see if they get any follow-up responses.
One of the many hilarious responses.
And in fact, perhaps the best things to come from the whole Gumtree marketing campaign were actually the quirky and downright humorous responses that some people left for the fake advertisement. Napora’s favorite seems to have been written by an alien itself (who apparently owns an iPhone), proclaiming to the studio: “We were already here, before Moses born you can’t stop us. You can’t stop invasion.” Others are much more up for the challenge: “I am down Claus. Let’s get this done.”
You can check out some more of the hilarious responses that were messaged to the Square Off advertisement on Gumtree by visiting the Gnomic Studios blog. Gnomic Studios is currently hard at work on finishing a sequel to Square Off to be called Square Heroes, and so I think we’d better keep our eyes peeled for some more creative marketing ploys to pop up in the future. In the meantime, you can download the original Square Off game (which looks like a really fun time, by the way) by heading over to the App Store.