Zynga-Hired Advertiser to Pay City $45,000 for Illegal Guerrilla Marketing

Categories: Law & Order, Tech
meyer.jpg
Meyer Lansky would not be impressed.
The company hired by San Francisco-based social game developer Zynga to promote one of its games has agreed to pay the city $45,000 in fines for illegal marketing tactics, City Attorney Dennis Herrera announced today.

Back in August, the city attorney's office went to the mattresses against Zynga after public-works officials discovered fake $25,000 bills -- advertising the new Zynga release Mafia Wars: Las Vegas -- glued to sidewalks. The gaming company was let off the hook after the firm it had hired to oversee marketing of the game, Davis Elen Advertising, took full responsibility for what the city attorney's office had deemed "illegal and actionable" acts of vandalism.

"The so-called 'guerilla marketers' who deface public property in San Francisco may think they're being clever, but they're nothing more than lawless vandals-for-hire," said Herrera. "Graffiti vandalism is illegal, and when it's done as corporate advertising, it's also actionable as an unlawful business practice."

This sort of thing isn't all that unusual. Microsoft just admitted to stenciling allegedly illegal advertisements along Valencia Street.

Still, in the press release issued by Herrera, Zynga almost comes across as heroic for hiring a company that proceeded to market its products unlawfully. "I'm very grateful to Zynga for its good corporate citizenship in working with us to identify the culprits, and I'm glad that Davis Elen Advertising accepted responsibility for its wrongdoing," Herrera said in the statement.

In a mafioso's terms, you might say that Davis Elen was the fall guy.

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