So I'm glancing at The Philadelphia Inquirer the other day and come across a story about the new Batman movie, "The Dark Knight." It catches my eye not because I'm a Batfan, but because I really dig Heath Ledger (guilty pleasure!), whose starring role as The Joker promises to be a huge (posthumous) hit.
Anyway, the article is about the advertising push for the movie, set to release this July. But the ads started nearly a year ago. Billboards that didn't even mention the movie went up in several cities, and within days all were defaced with identical graffiti (a man's face was colored over with clown-ish makeup). You see, it was all part of the plan. The billboards were clues to lead Batfans into one of alternate realilty gaming's (ARG) events, which has them looking for clues all over.
From the article by Chris Lee:
"The Dark Knight is mashing up advertising, scavenger-hunting and role-playing in a manner that variously recalls The X-Files ... all to galvanize fans to bond (with the new Batman and one another) over the course of a wild goose chase." It also says that this "multifaceted promo-push transcends marketing to exist as a stand-alone cultural event."
and someone involved said, "This is looked upon as viral marketing, but you have to look at it as an engrossing experience -- you have people getting very attached to the game. You're not a passive onlooker, you're taking an active role. And any time you take an active role, you're emotionally connection. That's why people keep coming back."
WOW. Now that's a full-scale, heavy-duty, ingeniously planned marketing campaign. These movie folks know exactly who their audience is, what they like to do, and how they do it. And they're already succeeding in pulling kids in. The whole article is well worth reading to see how they created fake websites, clown-cake giveaways, and fake abductions. (And for my fav line, "Holy meta-narrative, Batman!")
ARGs, it says, are poised to really affect future movie marketing. How can they inspire you?