Thursday, August 2, 2007

Holy Viral Marketing, Batman!

I really like superheroes, but I am really picky about them, too, which is why I typically leave the theater after superhero movies mentally dissecting what worked, what could have been done better, and what should never have even been attempted. Rarely does a Superhero Movie get it *just right*. But Christopher Nolan got Batman Begins *just right*.

Christopher Nolan is, in my book, tied with M. Knight Shyamalan for best Film Director In The Whole Wide World. And when the Best Film Director In The Whole Wide World (Nolan) takes on the Best Film Subject In The Whole Wide World (Superheroes), you get Movie Magic. So I am elated that Mr. Nolan is going back to Gotham City for seconds.

The Dark Knight, a direct sequel to Batman Begins, will be hitting theaters a year from now. The movie is currently fiming in Chicago, but the guerrilla marketing has already been underway for weeks, if not months, and is some of the most clever stuff I have seen. I don't know who the geniuses behind this are, but as long as they don't put any suspicious "Lite-Brite" toys underneath Boston Bridges, they should go on to do great things for other movies as well.

It all began, as far as I can tell, with the website "", which got a whole internet domain name to display a single picture. The picture is a political campaign-style poster featuring Aaron Eckhart's good-looking face gazing thoughtfully out into the distance from in front of a Flag background, and the words "Harvey Dent for District Attorney", "I believe in Harvey Dent", and in smaller print, "Paid for by friends of Harvey Dent"

For the Batman-Impaired amongst you, Harvey Dent is the name of the good-looking, unbribable, straight-as-an-arrow, District Attorney who is a good friend to both Bruce Wayne (as another of Gotham's Most Eligible Bachelors) and a professional friend of Batman. Harvey eventually becomes disfigured along one half of his body, marring his once-famous good looks, and turning him into the tortured, half-good, half evil character known as Two-Face.

This little teaser tells us two things. That the Character of Harvey Dent will be in the movie, and that he will be played by Aaron Eckhart. What it doesn't tell us is whether we will get to see the emergence of Two-Face in the film. This is why they call it a "Teaser".

So a Few Weeks after "I Believe in Harvey Dent" pops up, Comic-Book Shops in California start finding playing cards stamped with "Ha!Ha!Ha!" and "" I won't tell you which playing card it was, but I'll give you a hint: It rhymes with "Smoker" and "Midnight Toker" (and, yes, some people call him "Maurice")

A visit to this site revealed a mirror of the original Harvey Dent site. Just the same picture as before... but the picture was changing, excruciatingly slowly, pixel by pixel, to reveal the first image of actor Heath Ledger in makeup as The Clown Prince of Crime himself, The Joker. (Hey, "Joker" rhymes with those things from the last paragraph! Except "Maurice".. wonder what that was about?)

Then 48 hours or so later, just when some people were getting the emails from their friends telling them to go check out the picture, they pulled it, and visitors to the site were greeted with The words "Page Not Found" in red lettering on a black background. Those who left disappointed missed the site's new content. written in *Black* lettering on the black background,(visible only if you "click and Drag" across the screen) was "Ha HA ha hA Ha ha...." for a disturbingly long time. Check it out for yourself here, if you want to.

People looking for some meaning to the madness found it, if they scoured among the "Ha"s for the other letters, which apparently (I've not checked - I'm not THAT nerdy! (ok, ok, I checked)) spell out the message "See you in December". The Movie will be out in Summer, so what is going to happen in December? Ah.. Another Teaser.

Speaking of Teasers, that is also the name for the 10 to 30 second advertisement for a movie that comes out before the 2 minute long "Trailer" does. It is shown in movie theaters far in advance of the movie, to generate "Buzz" and whet fans' appetites. Well, some one "Bootlegged" a very low quality recording of the teaser for The Dark Knight before it was supposed to be released, and posted it on YouTube. I found out about this and visited You tube to watch it. I saw it, but I couldn't hear it very well over my laptop speakers, so I went to get my headphones and watch it again. Before I could return from the other room, Warner Brothers pulled the plug and the Video, and when I tried to play it again, I was greeted with "This video is no longer available due to a Copyright Claim by Warner Brothers". I had watched it less than five minutes before it was pulled.

Well last week the plot thickened. Geeks of every color, shape and size were in San Diego for Comic-con 2007. Another site pops up, called, with a countdown clock running on it. The site is made to look like the Joker is recruiting people. At the appointed time, people who want to join "The Joker's" forces need to be at a certain place. The place is indicated by a aerial photo, with no directions or even any indication of where it is. If you recognize the place from the air, then be there at the time appointed.

When they got there, among lots of other promotional stuff, there was a contest of some sort -a follow the clues-scavenger hunt sort of thing from he look of it. All of the participants were wearing garish, Joker-style, Clown makeup (you can see the photo at the bottom of yesterday's post), and the winner got to be "Killed" and photographed as a "Joker" body double. The website then featured the Joker's "death notice", still photos of the day's events, and the official release of the "Teaser" that I had seen before. The phrase "See you in December" came up again in the death notice. Then a bit later, they pulled the site altogether, and it now forwards you straight to "", which seems to have no purpose (so far), other than to highlight the "mugshots" taken of the contest participants in their Joker-makeup. The fans are given ridiculous aliases which are all combinations of the same dozen or so (all-male) first names, and a few descriptive phrases; you can check it out here. (WARNING - you will want to turn your speakers waaaay down.) If there is a secret message on this site, I don't know what it is. If you figure it out, let me know, otherwise....

"See you in December!" HaHA haHA hahaha HA ha HAhahahahahaha!!!!


micro sd card said...

Dark Knight No wonder people were lined up long before midnight for the first showing.

micro sd card said...

Dark Knight No wonder people were lined up long before midnight for the first showing.