Early Stages Warner Bros released the films official website in may 2007, but this was simply a placeholder. Marketing was handled by 42 Entertainment who began a huge viral campaign. The Tagline was “Why so Serious?”
Viral Marketing Before Dark Knight viral marketing wasn’t taken very seriously. Marketing began in may 2007, with IBelieveInHarveyDent.com which was just a simple photo of Aaron Eckhart as dent. (same image used on T-shirts and posters) It was shortly followed by IBelieveInHarveyDentToo.com which had a damaged image of dent with a space below for email addresses as more were submitted the picture faded into a picture of the joker, it took less than 24 hours to reveal the whole picture.
The image of the joker was removed quickly and was replaced with a series of ‘HA’’s and the simple message ‘see you in December’. This led to the teaser trailer, but strangely it had no image just the sound-bytes of Bruce, Alfred and the joker.
WhySoSerious.com whysoserious.com was then released, which became incredibly slow because of the mass of people refreshing it for new clues (this was good as it meant more info was released with increased participation.) . There were different messages which led to Morse code of the joker laughing. $1 dollar bills with instructions directing people to go to the website were handed out at San Diego comic con 2007 which was a genius idea to increase so much interest in one place, and the support of thousands of geeks.
Scavenger hunt. People were instructed to be at a certain place at a certain time and where then sent on a scavenger hunt. Not only did they receive joker masks, but when all the clues were assembled the site debuting the new teaser trailer. There was another scavenger hunt telling fans to find clues at certain locations in major cities throughout the United States, and take photographs of discoveries. The clues revealed a new photograph of the Joker and an audio clip from the film saying "And tonight, you're gonna break your one rule."
Previews & teasers The opening sequence of the film was shown before screenings of the 2007 blockbuster ‘I Am Legend’ which expanded the fan base even more and now had the support of any action film fanatics that hadn’t already joined in with the online campaign. The same sequence was an added extra on the ‘Batman Begins’ DVD which was released only a week before the Dark Knight.
Posters. The first teaser poster was released shortly after the previews in cinemas beside I Am Legend. Although the poster was not as exciting as the few images that had already been released fans remained equally excited to see what would come next.
Heath Ledger After the death of the Ledger the campaign focused more on the joker. Some people even thought the death was put on as a marketing stunt. Dispite his death plans went ahead and joker posters were released.
Anti piracy Warner bros devoted 6 months developing and carrying out there anti piracy strategy. The strategy consisted of spot checks domestically and internationally, shipping schedules staggered and tracking people with pre released copies of the film.
Release The film’s premiere was july 14th in Imax cinema in new york. It was comercially released on 16thjuly and made almost $2.3 dollars on the first day.