Zynga in Hot Water with San Francisco City Attorney Over 'Mafia Wars' Marketing

Dennis Herrera is taking off the gloves over Zynga's 'Mafia Wars'
The San Francisco City Attorney's office is going after social-gaming company Zynga -- maker of such popular Facebook applications as FarmVille and Mafia Wars -- for what it calls an "illegal and actionable" marketing campaign to promote the company's latest product, Mafia Wars: Las Vegas.

In a letter dated today, Deputy City Attorney Alex Tse asserts that "documented acts of sidewalk vandalism" have been committed to advertise the new Mafia Wars game, in the form of fake $25,000 bills glued to sidewalks in San Francisco. The bills direct people to a Mafia Wars website.

"The City Attorney takes violations such as these very seriously, and intends to pursue every available cause of action aggressively against Zynga for these illegal marketing tactics," Tse writes.

Tse goes on to ask that Zynga "provide the City full information regarding the nature and extent of the marketing campaign affecting the public way in the City, identify all parties other than Zynga responsible for this campaign, and provide the City with a proposal to fully resolve the issue."

SF Weekly sent an e-mail to Zynga's communications department about Tse's letter; we await a response.

In the meantime, officials at the social-gaming company must be keeping their fingers crossed that another big marketing stunt for the new version of Mafia Wars -- the company plans to blow up a truck in the Nevada desert this evening with the help of rapper Snoop Dogg -- comes off a little more smoothly.

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