How Borderlands 2’s Bungee Jump Ended As A PR Disaster

by David Reader

When my friend told me that 2K was hosting an event, at which anyone crazy enough to bungee jump could win a copy of Borderlands 2 (combining something I’ve always wanted to do with the sequel to one of my favourite games) I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. But, on reflection, I really should have.

My girlfriend and I arrived at 8:30AM to queue and there were, unsurprisingly, quite a substantial number of people already in line. As it was early, the bungee team were still preparing their equipment, and the PR team donning the area with Borderlands 2 banners.

There was an air of excitement but unfortunately not for long – soon after our arrival a team member did a headcount and, interestingly, had a worried look on his face. Not long after that another member of PR team came over to explain that they were hoping to get through around 70 jumps and we shouldn’t be disappointed if they didn’t manage to get to us, but they hoped to get through as many as possible.

[drop]Shortly after this the line was separated (mainly due to the layout of the area) and as we were comfortably in the front section, we had hope.

So, we waited, and that’s when the shenanigans started. The crane driver and bungee team were having major issues setting up the crane, and when all issues were eventually resolved (excruciating to watch) it was an hour or so past the scheduled start time of 10am. By the time all the bungee equipment was attached and tested it was around 11.30am but finally the ‘psycho’ Borderlands 2 fans could get to jump.

However, the first two people – who apparently had waited since the previous day – weren’t exactly psycho and chickened out, much to the displeasure of the crowd, who were booing and shouting. Not only this but each took a good 5 minutes of decision-making time before finally coming down. For an event hailed as something where only those ballsy enough should participate, they should have been given 30 seconds to decide before being pushed out by the bungee staff.

Thankfully this was followed by fans who took the leap swiftly, earning their game in the process. All was well… until the rain started: relentless, pouring rain, accompanied by an occasional chilling wind. We continued waiting and at this point the lack of communication between the PR team and the crowd was extremely noticeable. They hid under the main tent, only venturing out occasionally, and most information we received was from the hired security in the area. Not once was the crowd told directly how many jumps the team now expected to get through or whether they would be continuing jumps past 4pm to compensate for the late start.

[drop2]As the day went on, the jumps continued as best they could but with worsening weather everyone in line (even those with umbrellas) was soaked, freezing and extremely miserable. If it wasn’t for the fact that we were so close to the front of the line (having waited for nearly 7 hours by this point), we would certainly have left.

The bungee team was noticeably getting worried and opted to take a short break. After taking the rig back up to test, they came down immediately and declared it too windy to continue. Once again we hear from the security that they should still be giving copies of the game to those in the front section of the queue (those at the back had long been sent home). Naturally having run out of copies, the PR team took details of those still in line, told us they would be in touch and that we should have the game by the end of the week.

This was a complete PR disaster.

They should have been prepared to jump more than 70 people, had all the equipment in place and tested for a prompt start, and definitely should have had a contingency plan in the event of bad weather. Mid September in London is hardly known for its balmy climate, after all. They ran out of games to dispense, despite jumping less than the intended number of people and the lack of communication between PR and fans was disgraceful.

So now, whenever I play Borderlands 2, I’ll always think of nearly freezing to death instead of having fun with a bungee jump. Nice one, 2K.

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44 Comments

  1. Oh man, it sounds like you had one hell of a time…

  2. Sounds like an utter failure. At least you’re getting the game but that surely isn’t worth 7 hours of your time, is it? It sounds like everything possible went wrong, which is a complete shame, but the staff didn’t actively try to help.

    I’d love to go bungee jumping, but not like this. How many people actually did the jump?

    PS. great to see an article from you, David.

    • The most I saw the staff do was give the people right at the front two or three 2K branded umbrellas when it started raining (which we assumed would be passed along), but they let those people take them after they jumped. I understand that not everything is under their control, but it was the complete lack of communication with fans that got me.

      It was hard to keep looking up at the rig with the heavy rain, but our estimates were that maybe 40 people or so did the jump.

      As for the game, they were supposed to email us first thing this morning…still no email, so it may all yet have been in vain. Definitely not worth 7 hours of anyone’s time.

  3. Sorry to hear about your ordeal mate. hope u get your game soon.

  4. That’s a real shame but it’s best that you didn’t bungee jump and get slammed against the train and die or something, I would never do it myself, I can barely climb a stepladder I’m so terrified of heights (that’s why I’m short).

    It’s similar to when I hunted down Mass Effect 3 space edition that they launched. It was the second one they did in the day, after already saying they would do 2 launches in each city. When we got there they didn’t have a single copy of the game and said they would post them later that week, (only thing was, was that I was going on holiday when the game was meant too arrive.)

  5. Go on google earth and zoom in really fast to compensate for missing out on the experience, should be similar.

  6. I was at this yesterday as well. Got there just after nine am and ended up at the front of the second queue. Some of the other people near me were keeping an eye out for people trying to sneak into the back of the first queue but were pretty sure a good ten or so were still in there who shouldn’t have been. This is a big number considering what was going on. Eventually made it into the main queue and looked like I might have been able to jump if it had been open for another hour or two.

    I will admit that they couldn’t have done much about the rain and that when they were up to speed someone was jumping every three minutes. However the jump should have been ready at 10am and there was a lack of communication throughout the event.

    I haven’t received the email either. I also double checked they had my email address as my writing isn’t good at the best of times and especially not when I have frozen hands. Ben Lawrence is @TheMoop on twitter. I have sent him a very polite tweet asking about the email but had no response. Might be an idea to tweet him and get anyone else whose email details were taken to do the same.

    Looking forward to a copy of borderlands 2 but really I was there for the bungee jump.

  7. I misread the title; thought it said “How Borderlands 2′s Bungee Jump Ending Was A PR Disaster”. SPOILERZ!!

  8. Send an angry email to 2K and see if you can get some more free stuff, that’s what I’d do!

  9. That definitely didn’t sound like fun but it’s hardly a PR disaster. I guess this headline sounds more dramatic and might rake in a few more clicks. :/

    • At the end of the day one of the priorities of PR staff at events like this should be to communicate with fans, especially those willing to wait in wind and rain to get their hands on the game. This didn’t happen.

      Admittedly, the weather was not under their control, but the base organisation was appalling. They had all the resources available to them to adequately manage the situation, and they couldn’t. Borderlands 2 has had a strong advertising campaign, and this was their opportunity to release it with a bang. To treat fans this way at a game’s release is, in my opinion, the definition of a PR disaster.

      • Damnit, see my reply on the second page. ^^

  10. Dummy. Spit.

    The PR team clearly stated to you at the beginning of the event not to be disappointed if they didn’t get to you.

    It rained.

    • Amazing.

    • You should check and see if that PR company is hiring.

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