Battlefield 1 publisher Electronic Arts — and specifically, the game’s social media team — is under fire today for a tasteless marketing campaign in which the series’ Twitter account came off as glorifying the First World War to sell a video game.
EA has since deleted the three tweets in question, which used the hashtag #justWWIthings alongside meme-worthy phrases such as “weekend goals” and GIFs containing violent images from Battlefield 1. The game, which is set during World War I, was released earlier this month.
The aforementioned “weekend goals” tweet was originally posted at 11 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 30, and it’s perhaps the most egregious one. It was accompanied by a GIF of a soldier being burned alive by a flamethrower — with the phrase “when you’re too hot for the club” overlaid on it. You can see a screencap of the original tweet below, along with the GIF.
On Friday, Oct. 28, at 3 p.m., the Battlefield account marked the end of the week by asking its followers, “Your squad got big plans for the weekend?” The image in the tweet featured a burning zeppelin crashing to earth in the background, with more cringe-worthy meme language atop it: “When your squad is looking on point.”
Both of those tweets have gone viral this morning, even after EA deleted them. If you search that hashtag on Twitter right now, you’ll see plenty of people lambasting EA for the marketing campaign.
In a well lit room, 10 social media experts gather around a whiteboard. Smiling. High fiving. Written on the whiteboard:#justWWIthings— Mike Bithell (@mikeBithell) October 31, 2016
It’s worth noting that #justWWIthings isn’t a new campaign. The Battlefield Twitter was using it at least as far back as mid-July, when the account sent a tweet saying “romantic” — along with an image of a flaming zeppelin going down, and the phrase “basking in the glow of a burning airship” overlaid on it. EA has also deleted that tweet, although it didn’t seem to cause much concern at the time.
This also isn’t the first time that EA has deleted an insensitive Battlefield 1-related marketing tweet. Peter Moore, EA’s chief competition officer, tweeted a photo of himself in a Battlefield 1 onesie last week, saying that “trench warfare requires specialty equipment and clothing.” The garment, said Moore, includes “pockets for melee weapons and Doritos.”
Well the tweet got deleted so now I have no choice but to post a screenshot pic.twitter.com/jrAsv5QAGh— Wario64 (@Wario64) October 25, 2016
World War I, which lasted from 1914 to 1918, involved about two dozen nations; estimates put the casualty totals at more than 37 million soldiers and over 7 million civilians, including more than 8.5 million military personnel killed in action.
We’ve reached out to EA for comment on the deleted tweets, and will update this article with any information we receive.
Update: An EA representative provided Polygon with the following statement regarding the #justWWIthings campaign: “We would like to apologize for any offense caused by content in the last 24 hours posted on the @Battlefield Twitter account. It did not treat the World War 1 era with the respect and sensitivity that we have strived to maintain with the game and our communications.”