We figured that the fake North Korean protest staged during GDC as part of the Homefront marketing campaign was going to draw controversy -- but we couldn't have predicted this debacle. THQ's staged rally, meant to "decry the North Korean regime and the treatment of its citizens," ended in a symbolic release of ten thousand red GameStop-branded balloons. While majestic at first, bad weather quickly deflated the balloons, causing a downpour of promotional garbage directly into the San Francisco bay.

Environmentalists were not pleased, especially when they discovered that the balloons had advertisements attached to them, highlighting the "resistance multiplayer pack," a pre-order bonus. "Obviously, we have a problem with polluting of the bay and this is just polluting and littering," Amy Ricard, a spokeswoman for the environmental group Save the Bay, told SFGate.

GameStop was quick to issue a statement, distancing itself from the poorly-received event. "The balloon drop stunt in San Francisco was created by THQ ... and GameStop had no prior knowledge of it." THQ later issued a statement, confirming GameStop's non-involvement, adding that the balloons were "100 percent organic product and are 100 percent biodegradable."

Although the company promises to clean up its mess, many are still furious at THQ's tasteless promotion. Perhaps THQ should stick to ... taste-ful stunts.

[Photo credit: Mathew Grimm / Special to The Chronicle; source]

This article was originally published on Joystiq.