Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Why So Serious?

By Nikki Preciado

I never thought I'd see so many non-advertisers actively promoting a movie, and even less if the promotion has turned into a sort of twisted role-play treasure hunt around the world. The Dark Knight's viral marketing campaign, dubbed the "Why So Serious?" campaign started in May 2007 online, and slowly started expanding into cell phones, snail mail, treasure hunts, and even flash mobs! According to theinspirationroom.com, over 10 million people in 75 countries participated in the viral campaign, making it one of the most successful viral marketing campaigns ever.

I believe that there are three main reasons why it worked so well. First, the image of Batman, especially after the first Christopher Nolan rendition, was targeted to a more mature audience. This audience grew up watching all the previous movies, TV shows and comic books, and are thus very familiar with the character. Because they're adults now, it's intriguing to see how a childhood hero's image has evolved as much as they have themselves. The new Batman movies are a lot darker, and reveal many facets of the human psyche (like anarchy or justice, for example), as well as more mature interests such as politics.

Secondly, we must realize that humans are, by nature, curious beings. The human mind is always on the quest to get to the bottom of things, and generally likes being entertained as they do so. Thus, it should not be a surprise that so many people joined forces with the Dark Knight's marketers in a maniacal treasure hunt for the infamous Joker.

Last, and most importantly, the mediums in which the viral campaigns spread were key for its success. Television is a relatively impersonal medium, and over the last few decades, audiences have learned to distrust ads. By employing a more personal, high-involvement medium, the campaign sparked the interest of INDIVIDUALS, who were then thrust into a role-playing "game", incorporating them into the world of Gotham City.

Why So Serious?

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