The marketing team behind such cryptic projects as LOST, ALIAS, and Cloverfield are at it again. This time, they’ve taken a page directly out of LOST’s episodes by using a digital equivalent of found footage.
At the end of March, the ‘editing room’ of the Super 8 website went live. It was announced by entertainment media outlets like Entertainment Weekly, who got actual snippets of Kodak Kodachrome 40 super 8 film with codes that unlock strips of found footage on the site.
All of these strips began an internet hunt for more segments in order to complete what looks like a military film document some otherworldy subjects. It’s just the sort of grand, viral campaign which JJ’s camp have been launching and which tends to captivate a certain segment of their loyal following.
Much like the ballyhooed A.I. Artificial Intelligence campaign which helped to sell the idea to some Hollywood marketers, it takes advantage of many currently popular activities on the net, from Twitter to Facebook, as well as a few less-trodden channels: like hidden material in the release of popular video game sequels (Portal 2), even tactile tidbits. All the while tying in cryptic clues to real-life material, whether factual or alleged.
And of course, they put the tease back in teaser, with trailer and television spots that set the backdrop and atmosphere more than reveal the subject of the plot. I approve of this promotional style (which is commonly called viral but I prefer immersive) for two reasons.
- It doesn’t give away the film before you see it. Ever watch a formulaic trailer and spot pretty much every beat in the advertised film, from twist to ending, only to be proven right when (if) you see it? (Catchphrase!) I hate that. I prefer when they preserve the mystery.
- And the mystery itself draws its potential audience in. It’s a tightrope but if you can give the gist of the film without giving too much away, and pull people into your cryptic campaign then you’re essential building a fanbase where none existed. And the first butts in the theatre on Friday night are likely those who are already engaged in the movie before the it starts.
Obviously I’m one of those people.
Angelonian mathematics: J.J. Abrams + Steven Spielberg + a movie festooned with tropes of wonder and a boyish adventure, set in the era of my childhood when I thought the world was created purely for my exploration and amusement = my butt in a movie theatre on June 10.
How does it add up for you?
“Murmur of agreement.”
(Dear Paramount, I mucked about with your graphics and logos. Please don’t sue me.)