Movies and TV shows are using ARG (alternate reality gaming) to spark viral campaigns. Although it started back in ‘06 when Lost and KyleXY used ARG tie-ins, the recent explosion of Twitter and other social media communities created the perfect platform to stage a viral ARG of the upcoming Amazing Spider-Man movie, developing frenzied followers along the way.
(Note: Recent big name ARG viral campaigns have been used to promote The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Dark Knight Rises, and Alcatraz.)
My husband, being the übercomic nerd that he is, was watching the newest trailer for Amazing Spider-Man seconds after its release when they flashed the address for a viral campaign. It housed six static video feeds for six cities and their complementary Twitter accounts. Each video counted down to Valentine’s Day, when tweets were sent out with coordinates of locations around the different cities, leading the players on a hunt for mysterious packages.
My husband followed the tweets in Phoenix with no real intention of participating in “the hunt”. He randomly noticed the last drop was a few blocks from where he was working and followed the tweets leading to the last Phoenix drop. I cracked up when I got the phone call from him that he actually got one of the packages. I think I said something along the lines of, “You are such a nerd!” He sent me a picture of the contents – two hoodies, a note, and a cell phone. The note tells you to keep the phone on you at all times to get further contest instructions.
That evening he gets a call on his Spidey operative phone. A serious voice on the other end tells him to be ready to go Friday night, bring a partner and wear the hoodies and comfortable shoes. Wait, a partner? Now I was on the hook, too.
Over the next few nights, we saw the events unfold in other cities. Winners were tasked with leaving the Mark of Spider-Man by tagging the symbol throughout the city. As each city left its mark, www.MarkoftheSpider-Man.com was updated with images of the night’s events.
Let the Games Begin
We put on our hoodies and headed out to the location we received from the mystery caller. We pulled up behind a random bar (a little scary) and were taken into an empty building where they told us the story of how we were going to be leaving the Mark of Spider-Man and, oh yeah, signing a waiver in case of death. We climbed into a van and headed to the first location. On the way, we were told to make sure we were tweeting, taking videos, and posting as much as possible. So we broke up into teams to make sure all was getting accomplished.
I took the job of taping and streaming the video live. At the first location, we were approached by a cop, which I inevitably thought would happen when they saw a group of hooded miscreants tagging up a wall. He was amused by the back story and told us to be careful before going on his way.
We went to two more locations before we were through, taking home a Spider-Man print signed by the director and a T-Shirt. After all six cities were done with the challenge and all operatives had left their mark, we were instructed to stay tuned. A few days later, a new clip from the movie was release along with a video of the tagging events.
That’s where we’re at now. Can’t wait to see what happens next!