Ocean Marketing Delivers The Biggest PR FAIL In History

Prepare yourselves for what may be the greatest PR debacle the world may ever see. In a post aptly entitled Just Wow!, Penny Arcade’s Mike Krahulik shared an exchange between a reader named Dave and Ocean Marketing’s Paul Christoforo that defies belief and almost description.

Dave had pre-ordered 2 N-Control PS3 controllers for Christmas through Ocean Marketing. The thing is, Ocean Marketing required that purchasers pay the full amount, not cheap, but promised in return that they would be available and shipped before Christmas. With the day swiftly approaching, the promised ship date passed without any word from OM about the delay. Dave reached out to them for explanation and for an update as to when he’d be receiving them. What followed is an ever escalating chain of insults, bragging, dismissals and delusional statements that has likely resulted in the ruin of Ocean Marketing and the end of Christoforo’s career in PR.

Dave’s first email was rather straightforward. “I ordered 2 of the upcoming PS3 controllers (invoice xxxxxxxxx—Nov 3, 2011),” it read. “Any chance of getting an update of when these items will ship? I’m not really happy about being forced to pay upfront then have the advertised date of “Early December” be completely missed without any sort of update on availability. I really need one of them for a X-mas present as well. Anyways, looking forward to finally using one of these bad boys. Thanks and happy holidays.”

He very quickly received a terse reply* containing nothing but a date (December 17th) and Paul Christoforo’s signature. Dave responded equally reasonably, saying “Thanks for the reply Paul. Can you clarify whether my particular order already sent or if Dec 17 was the first day shipments went out? I have not received any sort of shipping confirmation email or tracking information.” Paul, apparently new to the customer relations game, responded with a very terse “They still haven’t shipped yet on the way here from china”, and yes, he sent this sans punctuation.

Obviously, this didn’t answer any of Dave’s questions, so probing further, he asked again, and received a typo-ridden, condescending reply, leading to a further exchange in which Paul misspelled Dave’s name as ‘Dan’. By this point, Dave is understandably upset and responded to Paul with a request for a refund and a detailed accounting of the problem’s he’d experienced up to that point. He also included a few insults, but having been insulted and condescended to, not to mention having spent pretty penny on controllers that increasingly looked never to arrive, it’s understandable. Paul, however, has no excuse. And it is at this moment when things became truly surreal.

His response wasn’t suitable for a high school mash note. “You just got told bitch”, he said in part. “Welcome to the real internet check kotaku in 2 weeks when they are reviewing free PS3 Avengers we send them as well as G4 and all the other majors hell yeah , don’t forget to check Amazon, gamestop.com, play n trade , Myers , Frys and a ton of other local stores coming your way you think you speak for billions son your just a kid you speak for yourself no one cares what you think that’s why were growing and moving 20-50 thousand controllers a month. We do value our customers but sometimes we get children like you we just have to put you in the corner with your im stupid hat on. See you at CES , E3 , Pax East ….?”

Crazy stuff, but Paul couldn’t just stop. He closed the reply with “Oh wait you have to ask mom and pa dukes your not an industry professional and you have no money on snap you just got told,” proving that the average MBA candidate is as douchey as you thought. The thing is, by this point, Dave had forwarded his conversation thus far to Mike Krahulik. The PAX East comment grabbed Krahulik’s attention, so he responded to all concerned with a very appropriate “Holy shit this is unbelievable. Dave, if this guy has a booth at Pax east we will cancel it.”

To repeat what comes next would be to ruin the joke. Head over to Penny Arcade to bask in the whole thing. Suffice to say, things got significantly out of control. To the point where Christophoro called IGN’s Scott Lowe a douchebag on Twitter for all the world to see and accused Penny Arcade of running a smear campaign for informing him that they would be posting his own words exactly as he said them. Which they did, earlier today. The fallout has been absolutely spectacular.

* This story exploded online. Paul Christoforo was turned into a public laughingstock.

* Kotaku and IGN both publicly denounced him and Ocean Marketing.

* Paul, perhaps realizing how much he f*cked his career, sent an elaborate apology to Dave, and another to Mike.

* Too late, though. David Kotkin, inventor of the controller in question has fired Ocean Marketing and posted a public apology. “We apologize for our poor representation from Ocean Marketing. We wanted to give Paul a chance. He was rough around the edges, but he had drive and enthusiasm. However his behavior was unprovoked, unnecessary, and unforgivable. We are no longer represented by Ocean Marketing.”

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how someone ruins their entire career in real time.

H/T The Examiner for their comprehensive timeline.

* corrected: previously the response was incorrectly described as ‘Blank’. Thanks to HiEv for pointing out the error.

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17 Comments on Ocean Marketing Delivers The Biggest PR FAIL In History

lol

On December 27, 2011 at 5:17 pm

He basically told the customer everything you ever wanted to say to someone. If you work or worked in CS I give this guy props.

Ross Lincoln

On December 27, 2011 at 5:28 pm

read the whole thing. This is the equivalent of saying “thank you for calling AT&T; f*ck you”. The customer was in fact very reasonable until he was insulted and condescended to. And Paul acted like a cokehead on a bender. He deserves his fate.

Hummel

On December 27, 2011 at 5:35 pm

Imagine for one second of your valuable time that Paul Christoforo knows exactly who dave is and takes a punt that Dave will get pissed off if mistreated and quite possibly post the results online. The rest is history. Post goes viral and a little known controller company is now veery well known. PRICELESS AVERTISING! Company fires Paul Christoforo and looks likev the good guy…people resume purchasing the controller in even greater numbers. Couple of months down the line they all admit it was a viral strategy from the get go. Well, thats my theory anyway.

axy1985

On December 27, 2011 at 5:49 pm

holly crap this is awesome. I seriously cannot believe there are still people in PR with this kind of mentality.
And…. ther eyou go: that’s why companies can´t get away with this anymore. Well done, Dave.

Anony

On December 27, 2011 at 7:19 pm

ANNOUNCEMENT!!!!

He bailed on his twitter account and got a new one to avoid the flood of complaints. @OceanStratagy is his current twitter account. The old account has been taken over by an independent group of Indie game promoters. I repeat… @OceanStratagy is his new handle.

inb4zombies

On December 27, 2011 at 9:40 pm

@hummel That theory only holds water if this little company managed to get IGN and Penny-Arcade to go along with their viral marketing. An impossibility, but it would be super epic if it were true.

kthonik

On December 27, 2011 at 10:41 pm

The apologies are very telling. Paul is not sorry about mistreating, insulting and belittling a customer, he is sorry that his douche-baggery was posted online for all to see. He does not concede that “Gabe” was right that he shouldn’t treat people, customers no less, the way he treated Dave, he just concedes that Penny-Arcade has the power to crush him and his wwebsite and expose to what degree he isn’t an industry insider. He even tries to hide behind his wife and child, showing that he is also a total coward.
To hell with the company that contracted this guy. He has a history of this sort of “customer service.” Other dirt the pissed off geek community uncovered is a very probably link to steroid usage and also domestic violence charges. When you employ an it might come back to bite you. “Rough around the edges” is just human resources talk for “that was costing the company less money than giving good CS would have, at least until it became a PR nightmare.”

jptarus

On December 28, 2011 at 6:01 am

That guy totally got what he had coming to him. You don’t treat customers that way and expect to be doing business for very long. If he was so concerned about the well-being of his wife and child, he shouldn’t have acted like that in the first place. He’d probably be fine as a mall cop or a night security guard at some place or another. There, his lack of customer service skills would be an asset.

Either that or a trash collector.

Martie

On December 28, 2011 at 7:31 am

@Hummel- I was tihnking something like that in the back of my head. It just could be that this is some big PR stunt. I wouldn’t put it past these people to drum up something elaborate like that. Did you see the Ocean Marketing Website? It looks like someone’s Geocities site from 1993.

Hummel

On December 28, 2011 at 8:41 am

@Martie- Yeah, first thing i looked for when the story broke. The whole shebang seems a bit fishy. Time will tell.

G.A.R.B.A.G.E

On December 28, 2011 at 10:09 am

NSFW
Ocean Marketing FAIL
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xqV9kx40RG0&feature=youtu.be

scottnich77

On December 28, 2011 at 12:58 pm

Here’s one video that is safe for work:

A :10 video of the future career of Paul from Ocean Marketing:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N2brMlTgstI

HiEv

On December 28, 2011 at 1:15 pm

The first reply wasn’t a “blank reply” as you stated in the article. It actually just said “Dec 17″ and the signature, hence the reply asking what exactly was that date meant.

@lol: No, I used to work in customer service/tech support, and I do NOT give him “props” for being a complete jerk to an innocent victim.

kevin

On December 28, 2011 at 2:37 pm

dave is just a passive aggressive that pushed too many buttons. the ocean marketing rep repeatedly told him correct, honest dates and look what it had to turn into.

Kensan_Oni

On December 28, 2011 at 7:51 pm

Kevin:

Are you *serious*? The whole thing reads and plays out Exactly as a Confidence Game, and if you believe that Mr. Christoforo was being honest about any date, you have fallen for the trap.

William

On December 28, 2011 at 10:38 pm

Not only is this guy a basic scumbag, he hits girls too.

http://courtindex.sdcourt.ca.gov/CISPublic/casedetail?casenum=DVN14325&casesite=NC&applcode=D

Ross Lincoln

On December 29, 2011 at 10:56 am

HiEv, thanks for pointing that error out. You’re right of course, and I’ve updated the post.