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Game2:Winter: a great concept (and marketing stunt)

Months ago, a new Russian TV show got announced in various countries. Game2:Winter was a game where “everything was allowed”, and people had to survive in the Siberian forests. It was an experiment, a very interesting one, to see how people would behave without any help, without doctors, surgeons, police. However, the show turned out to be a marketing stunt executed by Evgeniy Pyatkovskiy. Evgeniy used the show to prove a point about marketing and how it should be working. Though I’m sad the show isn’t real, I must say I think Evgeniy is a genius.

The announcement of a new show

As someone who’s learning Russian, I should be watching Russian TV shows. However, as I never really watch TV because it is uninteresting to me, it’s quite impossible to find a good show in my native language already, let alone Russian. It may not come as a surprise to some that I was very excited when a new Russian show got announced – Game2: Winter, a Russian survival show. The thing that sparked both my and everyone else’s interest, though, was the following quote by executive producer Evgeny Pyatkovsky:

We will refuse any claim of participants even if they were to be killed or raped. We will have nothing to do with this. This will be spelled out in a document to be signed by the participant before the start of the show. We will not intervene into relations between participants nor monitor their sexual life either, and our cameras will not be able to follow every move in every corner of the island. – Evgeny Pyatkovsky, executive producer of Game2:Winter

Hurray, sensation! Shocking! All over the world, people went crazy. The show would get broadcasted in various countries all over the world, and – even more interesting – the candidates were all ordinary people, and everyone could apply on the website. International media was talking about it, like The Sun, The Guardian and Deadline. Note how all these websites have similar titles of their articles: they all emphasize how rape and murder is allowed in this show.

How Game2:Winter turned out to be a marketing stunt

The site, game2winter.ru (make sure to change RU to EN when you’re visiting the site in order to view the English version), is still as is, and on the Game2:Winter page on VKontakte, the Russian version of Facebook, there wasn’t much information available except for one post consisting of a mere 3 words: Game doesnt happen. No more information, just a few comments from Russians asking why this had to be in English if Evgeniy himself was Russian.

post on VK from Evgeniy
Bummer! :(

A few minutes of scrolling through the page earned me a video from Evgeniy recording himself, talking about why he decided to create the show, or should I say pretend to create the show. In his video, he talks about how he thinks commercials are useless.

“First of all, I didn’t spend a dollarcent on promotion [of the show], and moreover, I think any commercial is useless to [society], except for natural, hidden commercials. […] When was the last time a commercial you saw on TV actually sparked your interest? And even if that happened, did you remember that very same commercial one day later?” – Evgeniy Pyatkovskiy in his video

With natural and hidden commercials, Evgeniy implies that commercials on TV are useless, and the best advertisement is the one that doesn’t look like an advertisement. By creating Game2:Winter and describing it as a show where everything, even rape and killing, is allowed, he sparked the interest of journalists from various countries. According to Evgeniy in his video, it also agreed to the views of foreign, non-Russian journalists: they are russophobes and will pick up on anything that’s anti-Russian.

Obviously, a show “allowing” to rape and kill is a great piece of information for foreign journalists who are, according to Evgeniy, trying to make Russia look bad. This only agrees with the statement I made earlier about news websites all mentioning in the title of their article how rape and murder would be allowed in this show. He then introduces us to his own vlog on YouTube where he will be giving tips on how to create a good marketing campaign.

Evgeniy Pyatkovsky in his video, titled "Hey everyone", where he explains his project
Evgeniy Pyatkovsky in his video, titled “Hey everyone”, where he explains his project

What makes the concept of Game2:Winter so strong?

Whether international journalists were actually interested in the show just to make Russia look bad is a question I wouldn’t like to think about, nor answer. What’s really important though, is the “shock value”: people like drama. Game2:Winter was a strong concept, in my opinion, because it adds so-called “shock value”: a group of people in a forest, without any consequences for what they do – everyone who has watched the German movie “Das Experiment” or American movie “The Purge” knows how that could be turning out.

Anyone can join!

But that’s not the only thing that makes Game2:Winter such a strong concept. The concept of anyone being able to join – even people from other countries, is a great way to get people to interact with your product, whatever it is. It makes people able to “touch” your product, rather than watching someone else (like famous celebrities) interact with it. People were able to apply to the show and got to make their own profile page and add various pictures, a short description of themselves, and general information like their height, weight and age. All the profile pages were then added to the website.

Anyone can vote!

There is one other social thing that makes this very strong: people could vote! To be honest, I am not a fan of using social media to vote, and if casting a vote for someone means I have to share a link on Facebook, or have to like a page, I most likely won’t do that. However, voting is also a very strong marketing choice. It allows people, even those who don’t wish to participate in the show themselves, to still interact with the product, which is the show. They can read about the potential candidates, get to know them, and they will realize again that they are ordinary people, just like them!

It’s not all rainbows and sunshine, though

Alright, I must admit – now that I know it’s all a fake, I do see various things that could be better. For example, the buttons on the website consist of simple Google images and are very low quality. The website is using a webshop template, which is weird for a website made for a TV show. Then again, Evgeniy said the website was made in only 5 minutes using some tool – so I shouldn’t complain. Media was powerful in this one – if it wasn’t for the journalists talking about it, I would probably not have believed it at all. People still tend to think the media tells the truth, no matter what.

Screenshot of the Game2:Winter website
I mean, look at those pixels!

Evgeniy’s main point, in my opinion, was to encourage marketeers to come up with better marketing strategies and better ways of advertising. He also showed that you don’t need money in order to create a good advertising campaign. Whatever it is, I’m still a bit sad about the show not being a real thing. Maybe one day someone will pick it up, and make the show a real thing. I’d be more than willing to help!

header image source: wikipedia.org

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