Take Two Sues Chicago Transit For Taking Down Grand Theft Auto IV Ads

from the now-the-ads-inspire-crime? dept

Take Two Interactive, the makers of Grand Theft Auto IV, have now sued the Chicago Transit Authority for taking down a series of ads for the video game that had appeared on the transit system. The Transit Authority took down the ads in response to a local news broadcast questioning the ads since there has supposedly been a wave of violent crime lately. So... now people think that just advertising GTA IV leads to crime? Considering there's no evidence that even playing the game leads to violence, what's wrong with the ads? It's hard to see why the CTA pulled the ads based on a silly, sensationalist news piece, though suing in response does seem a bit extreme as well. Of course, either way, now that it gets GTA IV back into the news cycle, Take Two may just be leveraging the Streisand Effect for all it's worth.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    JJ, May 5th, 2008 @ 10:31pm

    The CTA needs the money...

    The CTA keeps threatening to raise costs and cut services and then at the last minute get bailed out by the state congress. You'd think they'd do anything for revenue. This was a foolish and short-sighted move on their part.

     

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  2.  
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    Trerro, May 5th, 2008 @ 10:46pm

    Hmmm....

    It's hard to tell for sure from the article, but it sounds like they paid 300k for ads, the ads were pulled without refund, and they're suing to get the 300k back. If that's true, that's definitely a justified lawsuit, and if they get free PR out of it too, more power to them.

     

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  3.  
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    chi town citizen, May 5th, 2008 @ 11:10pm

    Where are they taking this down at?

    I take the CTA to work every day and I have seen these ad's everywhere. I haven't en a single one taken down as of yesterday when I was coming home from work.
    I probably saw about 8 ad's on my 4 mile trip home.

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 6th, 2008 @ 12:35am

    I love it! I used to HATE this game , Now, I'm waiting for it to come out for PC so I can get my copy!

     

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  5.  
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    Lutomes (profile), May 6th, 2008 @ 12:46am

    Re: Hmmm....

    I think getting your money back justifies a lawsuit. And at least that. I know if advertisments were pulled for a product I was launching (whether it was on TV, Newspapers, Billboards, or Transit) I would be at least including damages for loss of sales/reputation damaged in there as well.

    I don't mean as a frivilous lawsuit either, of course I would back off on the damages if there wasn't a legal leg to stand on, but getting my advertising budget back would be the first step. You can't ignore the economic costs though. By dropping 300k on the CTA ads they could have put them up in other areas/regions instead. I don't know of course how much sales momentum can cost (their analystis probably couldn't tell you either), but I'm sure they can put a few nice $$$ on it.

     

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  6.  
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    PaulT (profile), May 6th, 2008 @ 12:51am

    Justified

    For once, a lawsuit is justified. Take Two have lost money with no justification. The CTA have not given any reason for the ads other than they don't like the product they're advertising. They should have known that at the time they took the money and refused the cash.

    It would be a different issue if there was anything unacceptable about the ads themselves, but since they were totally innocuous, Take Two deserve to win and take every penny back.

     

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  7.  
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    Vivek Rughani, May 6th, 2008 @ 1:29am

    I think this is to do less about the money but the stigma attached that Take Two produce games that create violence in the real world. This of course is ludirous, GTAIV is a game, in the UK it clearly has an 18+ certificate and I know kids will get hold of the game. But if crime rises in Chicago I cant really see a game being the main reason. I think the press especially in the USA need to stop stirring up anger towards one of the fastest growing industries in the world.

     

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  8.  
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    Meeee, May 6th, 2008 @ 2:03am

    They must be getting tired of it

    I agree with Vivek's sentiment. Take Two must be getting increasingly bored and tired of being treated as inciting violence every 5 minutes. Every time a cop gets shot, it's GTA's fault because the person who shot the cop might have possibly played the game at some point. When the game is set in a New York-alike city, Take Two gets flak from the New York government because they find it dangerous and offensive, despite the enormous amount of violent movies based directly *in* New York, and so on.

    Personally, if I were them, I'd jump on any lawsuit with even a hint of credibility simply out of spite.

     

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  9.  
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    Lucretious, May 6th, 2008 @ 4:06am

    It may seem a bit extreme on the part of of Take-2 but I like the fact that they are indirectly forcing the CTA to address the news media by keeping it up despite the disgusting fear mongering that local news stations love to do. The reason that special interest groups have gotten so powerful is that both public and private companies will fold up in a hearbeat the minute an inkling of controversy heads their way. They need to stand up and wait it out, particularly in the case of a public entity like the CTA which has no shareholders they have to answer to.

     

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  10.  
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    SteveD, May 6th, 2008 @ 4:16am

    The Streisand Effect

    The GTA series has always thrived on controversy.

    Its ironic, but its the publicity from all those who want the game banned that make it worthwhile for Take2 to keep making new ones.

     

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  11.  
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    Overcast, May 6th, 2008 @ 6:07am

    to a local news broadcast questioning the ads since there has supposedly been a wave of violent crime lately.

    Hell - that was fast - game out like three days and there's a "Wave of Crime" - in Chicago - what a surprise!!

    It's not like parts of Chicago have been infamous for crime since the 20's or anything - or it's not like they ever had gang problems there before, huh?

     

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  12.  
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    Ajax 4Hire, May 6th, 2008 @ 6:26am

    Easy Target and contract law...

    Sounds like the CTA violated contract law by unilaterally changing the terms of the agreement; the GTA-IV advertisement is for a specific time period. CTA removed before time is up.

    And Yes, even if the CTA is struggling for money, and what Transit Authority run by government bureacuracy is not, it still a government bureaucracy. Elected and government appointed officials never think in terms of business, they think in terms of job security. I hate to use the word pander but that is exactly what CTA officials are doing, pandering to newscast pressure (not public pressure).

    Finally Take-Two is an easy target.
    It is easier for CTA officials and Chicago City Government to blame a few billboards of GTA-IV for the violence as opposed to the real culprit. Whatever it is it is _NOT_ GTA advertisements.

     

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  13.  
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    Ajax 4Hire, May 6th, 2008 @ 6:29am

    If they really though this was the problem

    If they really though this was the problem then placing bilboards of "Peace, Love, Happiness and Harmony" thru-out troubled areas should be the solution.

    GTA-IV billboards cause crime wave;
    Bilboards of kittens, puppies and happy children should counter-act; makes sense if you believe the crime wave cause.

     

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  14.  
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    Joe, May 6th, 2008 @ 6:41am

    No need to sue for your money back

    I work in advertising and there is no reason for Take two to sue the CTA unless they took the ads down and told them they weren't going to give a refund or make good.

    Typically if your ad is taken down without your consent you can ask for your money back, if the CTA was denying them that right the CTA would be in breach of contract and then it would be an open and closed case.

    Regardless the CTA is screwed but my guess is that Take Two has jumped on the lawyer bandwagon to get free PR. Not that it isn't smart but all they need to do is talk to the vendor ask why the ads were pulled and then A) get a refund, or B) get their ads replaced free of charge (production/man hours to put them up) and get an extra X amount of time added to the campaign free of charge.

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 6th, 2008 @ 6:50am

    God Ajax don't give these fools any ideas.

    Local police fired in favor of a private company producing billboards of puppies and flowers to be placed all around the city...sounds like a news piece from GTA

     

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  16.  
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    Wolfy, May 6th, 2008 @ 9:13am

    It looks like Take Two may have scored a good one. If they win their suit, they get their ads run as agreed, albeit a little later than planned, and they get their money back too! The icing on the cake might be the publicity they get from the "silly, knee-jerk/pandering" action of the CTA.

     

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  17.  
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    BRADLEY STEWART, May 6th, 2008 @ 10:41am

    HMMM I LIKE THE GRAND THEFT AUTO SERIES

    THE ONLY THING ABOUT THE SERIES THAT MAKES ME FEEL MORE HOSTILE TOWARD THE COMPANY IS BECAUSE I DO NOT HAVE A GAME SYSTEM I PLAY ALL MY GAMES ON A PC. I WILL HAVE TO WAIT A LONG TIME BEFORE IT IS AVAILABLE FOR ME TO PLAY. HAVING SAID THIS I AM NOT GOING TO GO OUT AND SHOT OR RUN OVER ANYONE BECAUSE OF THIS. I AM AWARE THAT LAWYERS HAVE FOUND A CONVIENT LEGAL DEFENSE IN GAMES LIKE THIS CAUSE GREATER VIOLENCE IN SOCIETY. BALDERDASH! I BELEIVE ANYONE AFFECTED BY A GAME LIKE THIS IN THIS WAY COULD EASILY BE TRIGERED BY AN ADVERTISMENT FOR CATCHUP. I DO HAVE TO GIVE THE CITY OF CHICAGO A BREAK HERE. LETS FACE IT CHICAGO IS ONE OF THE MOST VIOLENT CITIES IN THE COUNTRY AND THEIR PERCEPTION IS CORRECT THAT ADVERTISING THIS GAME IN LIGHT OF THIS SITUATION REALLY LOOKS BAD.

     

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  18.  
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    Rick, May 6th, 2008 @ 11:16am

    I speed - Ban all racing video games

    I have sped in my lifetime. Therefore we must ban all racing video gzames. It's irrelevant if I have sped prior to any of these gamnes e3xistance, they exist and so does speeding so they are therefore the cause of my speeding. It's so obvious.

    After the racing games have been bannned, we can begin to work on banning all cars, as they are obviously the secondary source of speeding.

    By eliminating all possible causes of speeding, we can then lock ourselves inside our homes and be banned from leaving, so any errant leftover cars that may be speeding cannot harm us,l whether they exist or not.

    Isn't this getting ludicrous? Wasn't this country founded on PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY? What happened to us?

    No child left behind - must actually mean: everyone is an idiot.

     

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  19.  
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    PaulT (profile), May 7th, 2008 @ 2:24am

    Re: No need to sue for your money back

    I disagree. It's not a question of just "getting a refund". The problems are:

    1. Breach of contract. Unless there was a clause in the original contract that specified that the CTA could take down the ads at any time, the contract would have been to have the billboards posted for X amount of time. Since they were taken down early, the contract was breached, which is a reasonable cause for a lawsuit.

    2. Sale losses. Now, you can argue that GTA4 didn't need the billboards in order to sell the game in that area. However, Take Two didn't get the billboards for their health, it was advertising. The purpose of advertising is to increase sales. Since part of the advertising was removed, they can argue that sales were lost - requiring compensation.

    3. Free speech and hypocrisy. Now, this is a little more nebulous, but hear me out. The ads were drawings of people in various poses. That's it. There was nothing suggestive of sex or violence in the pictures, and certainly nothing unsuitable for minors. The "problem" was simply that the product ultimately being advertised is not suitable for minors.

    That's the can of worms that's opened here. You can probably walk around Chicago (I don't know as I've never been there, but I assume) and see advertisements for tampons, condoms, alcohol, R-rated movies, adult TV shows, bars/nightclubs, etc. None of these things are suitable for minors but their advertisements will usually be tolerated if they are not themselves unsuitable. By taking down advertisements because of some moral issue with the product rather than the advertisement, the CTA have placed themselves in the role of a de facto censor, which is unacceptable under free speech.

    Given all of the above, your suggestions won't work. Since it's the product and not the advertisement that was the problem, no amount of free work will be OK - the ad could just be the game's logo and there would still be complaints. A refund is not acceptable due to the losses incurred by Take Two and the breach of contract. The CTA overstepped its bounds, and they are entitled to punishment for this even if just as a deterrent for future actions.

     

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