Electronic Arts has tried a number of things over the last few years to make itself a more palatable company to its customers and decided it needs some outside help, turning to the U.S.’s leading coffee chain for assistance. The company announced on Wednesday morning they have hired Chris Bruzzo from Starbucks and named him EA’s Chief Marketing Officer. Weird? Not really.
While bringing in someone from a coffee retailer who’s not worked in the video game industry might seem strange at first glance, Bruzzo’s resume includes a number of the nation’s top companies – most notably, Amazon. In the release announcing the new hire, Electronic Arts specifically pointed to Bruzzo’s efforts in building an online community, the type where customers were recognized and made to feel as though Starbucks valued their opinions.
Customer engagement is a obvious priority for EA considering its users have routinely nominated it as one of the worst companies in America. EA even won the top spot for being the “worst” in the faux tournament hosted by the website The Consumerist twice (in consecutive years).
There seemed to be less animosity towards EA in the last few months but frustration levels peaked recently again this summer after Madden NFL 15 was rolled out. Electronic Arts likely thought it had a winner on its hands by tying Madden to EA Access, the new subscription service which is exclusive to the Xbox One.
The company told their subscribers that one perk of the service would be early access to upcoming games published by EA including Madden. In addition, since there would be no demo of the latest NFL game EA Access would be the only way for fans to play it before its official launch. The problem arose when players didn’t know there would be a time restriction on how long they could play it before launch day. Poor communication and disappointment is not what you’d call “good” marketing.
@KansasFF EA Access memebers will have six gameplay hours with the full Madden NFL 15 game.— EA Access (@EAAccess) August 18, 2014
Quite a few subscribers apparently found out they would be limited to six hours total of early access only by asking EA through their Twitter account. After this revelation, several subscribers were seen openly threatening to discontinue their use of EA Access. While the furor over that snafu has largely died down, it underlines the very real need for EA to find a way to reach out and communicate with its customers more effectively.
Relatively new himself having been named Electronic Arts CEO in September of 2013, Andrew Wilson seems to understand, hence the new Chief Marketing Officer. Wilson said his new hire has “tremendous passion for building deeper connections for brands with their customers, and I know Chris will lead us to connect with all of you in new and inspiring ways.”
With the reputation Electronic Arts has built for itself with the gaming community, Chris Bruzzo might have his work cut out for him.