The Group Known as the “Bully Hunters” May Have Been Part of a Marketing Ploy
Author’s note (4/17/2018): The original headline of this story was “Anti-Bullying CS:GO Group Known as the ‘Bully Hunters’ Might Be a Hoax” but the headline has been changed to “Anti-Bullying CS:GO Group Known as the ‘Bully Hunters’ Became a Fiasco”. The story itself has also been updated with an official statement and additional info from FCB Chicago. The article’s meta-description has also been changed to note the Bully Hunters’ disbandment.
Last week, COGconnected reported on a group of anti-bullying Counter-Strike: Global Offensive players known as the “Bully Hunters”. The group claimed that they were going to fight sexual harassment & bullying in CS:GO but their group has been disbanded after having a disastrous livestream last week.
It has also been recently alleged that the entire thing may have just been a marketing ploy. The event apparently involved a Danish company called “SteelSeries“, which manufactures gaming accessories, and an advertising agency in Chicago called “FCB Chicago“. Also, the official website of the Bully Hunters appears to be no longer accessible.
As a result of all this, COGconnected has fully retracted the original story we ran last week and apologizes for not being more thorough in our reporting.
According to Natalie “ZombiUnicorn” Casanova, one of the hosts for the Bully Hunters livestream event, the livestream where they were supposed to combat bullying in CS:GO was actually a scripted event. The scripted event was livestreamed on Twitch last Thursday but the link to the stream no longer works.
SteelSeries denied on Facebook that they were the main backers of the Bully Hunters and also denied that this whole thing was just a marketing scheme to sell headsets, saying that “BullyHunters was not a viral campaign stage-managed by us.”
“We did not hire a marketing agency to create it,” their statement continued. “We didn’t have anything to do with its execution, content or messaging. And more importantly, we would never take advantage of an issue like bullying to sell hardware. They asked us to supply some headsets, support the call for positive change, and we did.”
SteelSeries also made these denials about their level of involvement in the Bully Hunters campaign on Twitter.
Casanova claimed during a livestream on her Twitch channel last Saturday that she was merely “brought on as a consultant” for the Bully Hunters campaign last October and claimed that she had no other role in the campaign aside from that. Casanova also claimed to have proof that SteelSeries was more involved in the anti-bullying campaign than they’ve let on.
FCB Chicago, the ad agency involved in the campaign, sent COGconnected a statement that denied that this all was a marketing ploy and said that they weren’t hired by SteelSeries. “This was not a marketing ploy. It was a cause campaign created to raise awareness of harassment in gaming,” an FCB Chicago spokesperson said.
The spokesperson also said that their agency was the “sole creator” of the whole Bully Hunters campaign. “The sole creator of the campaign was FCB Chicago,” the spokesperson continued. “All other organizations mentioned in the campaign did not provide any kind of financial or formal sponsorship. In most cases they were just supporting the cause.”
SteelSeries had only help FCB Chicago connect “with a few gamers and provided some headsets for the live event,” the spokesperson added. The spokesperson also revealed that the Bully Hunters have been officially disbanded but the agency looks forward “to finding new, more effective ways in the future to fight bullying in gaming.”
Several sponsors of the Bully Hunters have withdrew their support and each of them have released statements that distanced themselves from the Bully Hunters.
Last Thursday, before withdrawing their support from Bully Hunters, SteelSeries tweeted that all of the proceeds gained from the sales of their limited edition “Bully Hunter” headsets would be sent to the Times Up movement.