Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

Mafia wars and idiotic marketing

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Dear Seven-Eleven:

I realize your corporate headquarters are in Dallas, Texas.

Hence, you may not have been aware of recent gang-related shootings in Winnipeg that injured a 10-year-old girl and eight-year-old girl who had nothing to do with gangs.

So, when this sign went up outside the 7-11 at the corner of Ellice Avenue and Maryland Street promoting Mafia Wars, the significance was simply too rich to abandon.   

The house on Victor Street where the two little girls live is about 400 meters away.

That same day I saw your sign, I watched their mother talk about how she’s not going to leave the neighbourhood over the three bullets that shattered her front window.

I couldn’t help but marvel at the utter insensitivity having those words plastered out front of your store, totally oblivious to the environment they were in.
 
I’m sure the decision to launch a campaign promoting the online game Mafia Wars may have seemed like a good idea at headquarters.

Sort-of like the recent ad campaign by La Senza that tried to get five to 12-year-olds to wear bras.

And we know how well THAT worked out.
 
After all, with summer and Slurpee season upon us — never mind reams of research on violence and video games — a promotion was in order.


Thus, the hot dog containers with the guns. Somehow, somewhere, the makers of Grand Theft Auto must have felt overwhelmed with envy at the offensiveness of such prime entertainment.
     
Anyways, your promotion certainly arrested my attention. I logged onto the Mafia Wars website.

I saw the chance to rob a drug runner. And the opportunity to buy a gun, because "drug dealers carry guns." And rough up dealers. And rob a warehouse. And that was just in the first five minutes through a standard Facebook account.
 
Oh, 7-11, I can only marvel at the next promotion your marketing folks will dream up next.

Sincerely,

Gabrielle Giroday
 
P.S. You may wish to contact Ford over their recent "drive it like you stole it" campaign for the SUVs. Inspiration!

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About Gabrielle Giroday

Gabrielle has handled the police and crime beat for the Winnipeg Free Press since 2009, meaning she’s seen the best and worst humanity has to offer.

Covering the crime beat in a city known for its homicide rate and violent crime can be challenging, but Gabrielle tries to look at the more complex factors that drive violent events. She began the beat after originally joining the Free Press in June 2005.

Her previous experience contributing to the Globe and Mail’s Report on Business magazine, the National Post, Maisonneuve magazine and NOW Magazine. She was also a member of the editorial board of the Queen’s University Feminist Review, and completed a degree there in politics and English. Some of the Toronto native’s favourite adventures include hitchhiking in the Cuban countryside during a stint studying in Havana, and hanging off the back of a jeep climbing the Kanchenjunga mountain in Nepal.

Gabrielle also felt privileged to write about the first-time elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo in the summer of 2006, and received a grant from the Canadian Association of Journalists and Canadian International Development Agency to write about sexual violence there.

She recently went to Cameroon in fall 2010 as part of an expert election monitoring team, on behalf of the Commonwealth.

When she’s not chasing a story, Gabrielle can be found jogging every morning by the Legislature and down Portage Avenue.

She’s always enthusiastic about stories that involve investigating the road less travelled or the opinion less broadcast.

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