Watch Dogs PR stunt goes awry, summons bomb squad

"It was the dumbest stunt ever."

An ill-advised PR campaign for Watch Dogs resulted in a bomb squad storming the offices of Australian publication Ninemsn.

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Here's what happened: Frequently, when a big game comes out, the publisher - in this case Ubisoft - will send some commemorative bits of swag or a game's special edition to journalists who may write about it. This is not unusual. What is unusual is that Ubisoft sent a journalist at Ninemsn a package that was beeping.

As reported by Ninemsn, the parcel in question arrived in the form of a black safe "of the type found in hotel rooms". Attached to the ominous package was a note telling her to check her voicemail.

The reporter didn't use voicemail, however, and had coincidentally received a sketchy call the night before from a mysterious number that simply hung up. According to an Ubisoft statement obtained by the Standard, the publisher's Australian team "sent voicemail messages to some local media alerting them that they'd receive a special package related to the game."

Unfortunately, Ninemsn - which doesn't even cover video games - didn't receive this message, so it made the suspicious package all the more threatening.

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Fortunately the box contained neither a bomb nor Gwyneth Paltrow's head.

Ninemsn decided to call other publications to see if they'd received similar posts. No one else had.

Given the circumstances, Ninemsn called the police and evacuated the floor of the building in which the box had arrived.

Four police cars and a police rescue unit arrived on the scene before it was discovered to only be a video game in a safe.

"There was a bunch of reasons this ended up looking weird," said ninemsn publisher Hal Crawford. "The PR company no doubt got carried away with their creativity and ended up sending us something the bomb squad had to open up."

Ninemsn journalist Natasha Lee said "it was the dumbest stunt ever" in a tweet about the incident. "Stood next to the journo who received it - she was in tears. Really creepy."

Ubisoft later apologised for the traumatic incident, where it stated that the drop off "didn't go as planned. "

"We unreservedly apologise to Ninemsn's staff for the mistake and for any problems caused as a result," the video game publisher said. "We will take additional precautions in the future to ensure this kind of situation doesn't happen again."

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