It started innocently enough. I had lunch at Taco Bell on Friday and got one of their ecologically unfriendly plastic fountain drink cups. On that cup was a 12-character code that, according to the cup, I could enter at TacoBell.com to get some "exclusive in-game content for [a handful of] EA Games and more!"
One of the games is Spore, one of my favorites. So I went to TacoBell.com. As expected, I had to create a user account there. After I did that, I had to answer four simple questions about my drink choice, and then I entered my code. Simple enough, and totally expected.
Clicking the button to continue took me to a page at DrPepper.com, where I expected to download my freebie stuff. I was faced with a login page, and so I entered the user account info that I had just given at TacoBell.com. That was the wrong info.
I was at a new site. And I was expected to open a new user account at DrPepper.com. I rolled my eyes, but I am a big fan of Spore. So I took a couple minutes to enter my information and create a new password. After that, I was asked THE SAME FOUR QUESTIONS THAT I WAS ASKED BY TACO BELL.
Weird, yes, but not all too time-consuming. I forged ahead, entering my 12-digit code AGAIN at DrPepper.com. I was notified that I have a "reward" that I could redeem, and the only thing I had to do was LOG IN TO THE EA GAMES WEB SITE to retrieve it. And I didn't have a user account at EA Games.
I managed to hold back the deluge of four-letter words that were threatening to shoot from my mouth -- my two young sons are here, after all -- and I was ready to give up. I had already spent too much time and received nothing but the promise of more spam e-mail.
But my elder son is even more of a Spore fan than I am. And he has some adorable puppy-dog eyes.
So I created a new account at EA Games. I wasn't asked any questions about my drinking habits, and I didn't have to enter the 12-character code again, so I hoped I was actually getting somewhere.
Once I was logged into EA Games, I had to choose one of the games that offered some in-game content. I clicked on Spore, and I was getting a little excited -- the "prize" was a set of cybernetic body parts that I could use to build characters in my game. Totally Star Trek cool.
When I chose Spore, I was magically transported to the Spore Web site where -- guess what?! -- I was supposed to log in yet again. This time, though, I already had an account there, and I even remembered my password.
So I logged into the Spore Web site and got to the page with the longed-for link to the free awesome download. The link was right there! But the other text got in the way -- specifically, the text warned me of a known issue with a file path, followed by these instructions for working around that problem:
To fix this issue, please complete the following steps:
- Uninstall Spore and Spore Galactic Adventures
- Re-install Spore
- Re-install Spore Galactic Adventures
- Return to this page to install the Spore Bot Parts Pack.
I like Spore, and I would really like to have this Bot Parts Pack. But I like my time better. I can make much better use of my time than un- and re-installing software. Sitting here typing away about this travesty of a marketing campaign is a better way to spend my time than that.
I wish I could say that I was denying the perpetrators of this crap what they wanted, but unfortunately, the marketers at Taco Bell, Dr. Pepper, and EA Games have already gotten their rewards.
If any marketers are reading this, take this as a great example of how to piss off the very people you're trying to turn into customers. I will undergo this Sisyphean effort for nothing less than a new car. And it better not be a Daewoo.
And to the people at QDoba: You're now my favorite Mexican fast food restaurant. See you Monday.