Friday, March 21, 2008

Case 1017

So today I was sent a link to the Case 1017 video and found the original on YouTube. and started investigating the guy that posted it, and discovered this is actually an interesting viral campaign when you start to dig… and it has 1,121,159 views and counting since being posted on 3/15/08…

I think the video is a bit too produced, just making the quality poor with a filter doesn’t work. They seem to obviously be pointing the camera at everything at the right time and when will people learn a shaky camera doesn’t make things look viral? I also look at it and wonder how anyone would really even care about it, or stop to figure out what its for. Yet they know it’s probably fake since if it was a real story, it would have been on the news.… which could blow the whole campaign if someone actually sends it to a major news station only to find out the whole thing is a hoax.

But something of interest is the guy who posted it on YouTube. He has a video blog with currently 15 video blog posts, dating back to march 4. They certainly did a lot of back-story for this.

Also of interest is this blog that is also hosting the viral video. Although it started back in December supposedly, there are no comments on any of those posts. This means one of two things…

One, no one was reading the blog. Or two (and more likely) you can’t backdate comments like you can blog entries on blogger.

Actually a little further investigation into the blog and I noticed that he boasts a Flicker account, which happens to be hosting his blog photos. All flickr photos are dated 2/19 and later and his header image is pulling from Flickr, so either his blog had no header image when It started, or the real blog was started on 2/19

Even the online buzz is feeling a little skewed, people feel its either a Cloverfield Sequel, a re-make of [REC}, or just some film being a "copy-cat" of the Cloverfield style of viral marketing.

Here is a cool forum where people are picking this apart daily…

So after watching this campaign unfold and numerous others and my experience with entertainment marketing here a few guidelines I feel that these types of campaigns need to follow.

1. Believability – production value needs to match the abilities of the story you are trying to tell. For example, if it was established that this was news crew shooting the video, which would be more believable, then the quality would be better, most DV Cams today have good resolution, plus if its DV, copying the tape over and over again wouldn’t really have an effect on quality.

2. Do it in real time. If you are posting in December you really need to post in December. For 1017 they were smart and at least joined blogger in December. but the lack of comments seems suspicious.

3. The original viral clip needs to be carefully seeded - A quick Google search reveals this everywhere. and looks like it was uploaded in mass, a sign of an agency in my opinion.

4. All the components need to be in place - once the viral video breaks out, the users will start figuring out the puzzle, and to them its a giant treasure hunt on the the internet.

5. Viral campaign /ARG followers are smart and like a challenge don’t make it too obvious (it seems a bit forced that retired policeman just started a blog and is posting the video on it)

6. don’t force feed the online viewers to interact, line like this “where the hell is this, and what the hell is going on? make a video response and tell me what you think” seem forced as well, especially the call to make a video response part.

7. Media Interaction – Fine line of the news media getting involved and blowing the story if you pretend its real. I think for that reason you need to position the campaign as a campaign about the film (like Cloverfield succeeded in doing) as opposed to pretending this is a real event that happened 5 days ago.

8. People are ok with playing the game but it needs to come off as a game. People don't like to be tricked and pretending this is real, is already causing people to create video blog posts that denounce it as marketing.

9. Seed online forums with links to the video - again this needs to be done carefully as too many posts or obvious language can be seen as fake.

It will be interesting to see where this goes, the speculation is its for a move called "Quarantine" slated for a 10/17/2008 release... Hopefully it will be a smart well executed campaign but time will tell.

Rating: 6 - as of 3/21/08

Wednesday, October 31, 2007


Today I will be reviewing the movie site for the film Jumper. The film looks cool and the trailer looks very exciting and makes me want to see it, so I was excited to see the website. Sadly the website is not as slick as the trailer. Since the film is about jumping from one place to another (as in across the globe) I thought it would have a site that mimics this narrative from the film, but it doest. Instead, the site is limited to what seems to be a hideout that one of the characters is posting all his findings about the jumpers. Not really sure whose room it is though, although I don't really feel inclined to find out. The navigation is the rather common sliding image with various items hot linked. However it becomes obvious all they did was use a production still and photo shopped elements into the scene. The stills are extremely cluttered and makes for finding click-able objects rather difficult. Although I like the idea of searching for clues users should never have to search for film info. Even the cast section doesn't list the cast by name. If this an underground site and not intended to have this info that is fine too but then they need to build a separate EPK site or an "About the Film" section to provide that important information that people still look for.

The sections are typical for the most part. The mythology section does a nice job explaining the concept of the film a bit deeper, but only after you figure out which paper on the wall is click-able. The case history and jumper files are interesting but rather poorly executed. It uses the common legal papers from a file folder but lacks the ability to read anything but the top pages. Making it impossible and frustrating to read the articles and evidence in these folders. As a visitor I really wanted to explore these documents and read them but the site denies this desire. Also I have to add the sound design is rather monotonous. Every item when you roll over has the same sound and someone needs to fix the ambient loop, it times out too frequently. I would have preferred a much more subtle sound effect for the items and menu.

Overall a site for a really cool movie that could be made into a much cooler site, its still early as the movie is about 4 months away so I will check back and see if they are updates.

Rating : 5

Thursday, October 18, 2007

"I Am Legend" inspires iPhone campaign

Saw this on the Movie Marketing Madness news site. Decided to check it out.

First off seems you can only visit the site on an iPhone, tried my blackjack, no go, matter of fact I got a 404, since it ran a script and determined my phone wasn't an iPhone. Not so smart. They should at least offer a synopsis. Just for fun I plugged in the iPhone site URL to a PC and my Blackjack. You can almost see how the site works using the PC, try it out. My blackjack however could only pull the text content and wallpapers. The rest seems to be iPhone or safari proprietary code, such as the photo gallery and daylight countdown.

Borrowed my friends iPhone and checked it out. First off for an iPhone dedicated site it’s very heavy in size. Browsing on the standard AT&T edge network is painfully slow. Also the navigation doesn't always respond to the first click, also sometimes the data doesn't populate.

Content of the site is pretty cool though, feature synopsis, iPhone sized wallpaper, link to itunes trailer (although too slow to download via edge), photos (with a very smart interface for going forward and back)

Daylight countdown is a smart application, it counts down the days and hours left of daylight. Its pretty impressive that even on the iPhone the countdown functions and is not static.

Overall props to Warner Brothers and Crew Creative for creating such a site, but I think targeting iPhone users only is really missing a lot of potential users and they should have taken the extra hour or two to create a WAP friendly version or at the very least create a hand held style sheet, so mobile users aren't greeted with a page not found error. I think the average consumer wont realize that the mobile site they heard about is for iPhones only and consequently might feel alienated since they don't have an iPhone. - iPhone site

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Building Your Own Social Netowrk

A lot of people have been speculating (including myself) that social networks are going to become more niche targeted, and this new service Ning ( seems to pave the way. Ning offers a (free?) platform to build your own customized social network.

Check out the network someone built for the ever popular Penguins site.

This is the main network

And here is one user:

Notice that he is part of the PengSpace network and does not actually have his own page. He does however belong to mulitple networks, which takes the myspace model and flips it upside down on it's head. Also within PengSpace there are individual groups (similar to myspace) created as well.

Here is another that CW network created for One Tree Hill.

It will be interesting to see how these personal social netowrks grow over the year and what effect it will have on major sites like facebook and myspace.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

BMW Coupe and Convertible Experience Sites

Automotive sites have been getting more and more complex over time and these two micro/experience sites are great examples of what Flash can do to help someone really experience a product or brand. BMW has achieved this greatly in their latest experience sites to help you explore and learn more about the new 2007 BMW 3 series Coupe. The site feature super crisp 1024 width video of the car spinning that is later interactive. It feature great motion control camera work that will whisk you into the cabin of the car when you choose to learn about the interior. If you look closely you can see you how they swap in a high res still image after the movement stops, which is a great idea. They have shot the original video in Hi-def to so this and have such a clean image. All the detailed sections are chalk full of video or images to tell you more. Some of these sections even have interactive demos, such as the adaptive steering headlights.
The site also features a path navigation system that is unique but could be confusing to some. Upon clicking "Expand" it will expand the navigation to reveal how far in the site you have traveled and where you can go. Although quite cool and innovative, it fails to show the deeper levels you can reach within the site until you actually get there. Case in point: Until I click on the engine link I do not realize there are two more links below it, describing the 2 types of engines they offer. I think a simple solution for this would have been to show the full site structure, but grey out the areas you have not visited lately so at least you they are there. Also the other features such Ambient lighting are buried 2 levels down under the new sophisticated details sub-nav. Its a cool idea but one that limits the nav too much when the sites main goal should be to let users find everything quickly and efficiently. Also a bit shocking but they need to fix the lack of audio controls. Although ambient music is cool even the best audio loop after 30 times gets a bit old.

In terms of design though the designers did a great job creating a simple and very elegant site. Subtle gradients and design elements are well placed and uses nice clean boxes for layout.

Rating: 9

The sister site which promotes the hard top convertible version of the 3 series is well done as well but lacks the sophistication of the first. What is cool is the almost full width video introduction which then transitions to the car driving on the screen giving the feel of motion as the wheels spin and the road reflectors wish by. What is really quite surprising is the lack of video showing this amazing top going down. When you go into the section Versatility (which is also is a bit vague) the only option presented is to view a slide show. Really in today's bandwidth and the fact the site has an intro video that shows it, and full video showcasing the engine, this is unacceptable. This section should have had not only video but video with a POV you can change and view at any angle to really drive the selling point of how great this new feature is.

Rating: 7

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Geico Caveman's Crib

Today we look at Caveman's Crib
This was launched quite a few months ago so it is not a new site.

The interaction of this site is very good. The site is another type where you can explore photo-realistic worlds by pseudo camera moves and has great alpha channeled video clips. The site opens inviting you into the crib of the caveman from the Geico commercials, there is a nice video intro where he tells you to make yourself at home while he gets ready. The user is then left to explore the pad out. They designers did a nice job of adding about 4-5 clips of video to keep it random when you interact with objects that annoy the caveman. Some of the great examples are the big screen TV where if you click on it, it flips around the channels showing some Geico commercial and the ending screen which helps enforce the brand. Probably one of the favorite things you can do is flush the toilet while in the bathroom, while the caveman is taking a shower.
The funniest video reactions come from the bugging him while in the shower.
The Geico tie-in is pretty thick but effective, after all it is a website advertising for them. There really is no payoff to the site though, so I found myself quiting out after about 5 min the first time.

Rating: 8

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

IBM Blade Center

Today I'm going to veer off the entertainment a bit and discuss an interesting campaign I stumbled on for IBM. What caught my eye was the banner add which featured a full video in a 300x250 ad with no branding whatsoever. Just the tag/url
When you visit the site you see a much longer version of the video which really plays up that this ball of cables is almost alien-like, and in my opinion the video is too long, especially since i saw it already in the ad. What caught my eye was the call to action to "Watch Very Short Demos with Ned." This is done in a fun 1950's style instructional video format. I liked and disliked the content in this area however. The first video was kind of funny, it showed how to reduce power costs and featured a box fan in lower corner, the tech slides the blade into the server and turns the fan off. Simple and to the point and mildly humorous. There is another one where an It manager asks if they upgraded the infrastructure and then he simply plugs in the blade which is also quite humorous. There are probably about 20 some videos in there which promote the features of the product. Where the piece fails a bit i think is the payoff of these videos. With the exception of the two mentioned, the rest are mild variations of the tech plugging in the blades. If they had been more creative and come up with some more minor variations it would encourage users to explore them all and spend more time on the site. The overall concept of 15 second videos to showcase how simple the product is to use is great, the execution could have used a bit more finesse.

Rating: 8