Thursday, January 24, 2008

"Dark Knight" Update

Just to update my last post, the "Dark Knight" viral site, has now been updated to reflect Ledger's Passing. The site, shown in a screen cap to the left, now has a black ribbon in memoriam.

I guess Warner Brothers really is going to change it's tune on this one...

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

"The Dark Knight" in Danger?

The viral marketing campaign for "The Dark Knight", the latest installment of the 'Batman' franchise, is in need of a makeover. In light of the tragic death of actor Heath Ledger, the film's 'Joker', Warner Brothers is looking to rework the campaign to put less emphasis on the late star.

The campaign, started nearly a year before the film's July 2008 release, is perhaps the strongest viral marketing campaign for a film to date. It began in the summer of 2007, in which a cryptic website,, sent websurfers on a wild goose chase for small clues pertaining to the film. It also revealed, upon much tooling, early photos of Ledger as Joker, a much anticipated role. Other aspects of the campaign included sending out promotional copies of the fictional newspaper, "the Gotham Gazette", to members of the press, and which led them on a quest to discover a hidden cell phone, which led to a press pass, which then took them to a press conference, all pertaining to the film's plot and ultimate release. If not evident in my description, this is a viral marketing campaign unlike any other. The extent to which the movie studio is relying on the hype that viral campaigns build is astounding.

The blog circuit anticipates that the campaign will be re-worked to emphasize the heroic role of Batman, building off of clues from the studio. While the nature of Ledger's role in the film is nothing short of disturbing, to keep emphasis of the marketing campaign on him provides the role with an even more chilling basis. The poster pictured above is the latest for the film, with obvious emphasis on the big reveal of the Joker. It is being pulled as promotional material for the time being, according to Variety. The release date for the film is still on track, and much of the campaign has already gone underway, but it seems that "The Dark Knight" might be going in a new direction.

Thoughts? I personally was shocked to hear about Ledger's death, and think that the buzz on his role in the Batman film will become even more deafening as we get closer to the summer.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Save 'The 4400', Save The World

Pardon the "Heroes" pun, but fans of the 4400 have a situation as rash as that of poor Peter Petrelli.

Our textbook, "Citizen Marketers", opens with a case study on the almost-doomed third album of Fiona Apple. Sony, Apple's label, was hesitant to release the album, entitled "Extraordinary Machine" after they were less than pleased with the results of the recording sessions. Dave Muscato, a musician from Missouri, was enraged by the label's discrimination against Apple, and on November 20, 2004, began the website, in which he solicited petitioners to help encourage the album's release. He went so far as to engrave petitioner's names onto plastic apples, mailing them to the studio along with the paper petition, signed by thousands of people. His efforts worked, and the album was released in September of 2005.

A similar situation is popping up today. The USA Network's television program, "The 4400", has been announced as canceled. The series had developed a devout cult following during it's four seasons on the air, and fans are fighting to keep the show around, or at least get a season finale which would serve to tie up loose ends. At, fans can electronically sign a petition to save the show. Along with the petition, those in charge of the site are asking viewers to buy packages of sunflower seeds to send to the network, a concept pertaining to the show. A Youtube video and a myspace page, have been created in conjunction with the campaign.