A study conducted last month by the market research company TNS revealed that over half of British, German, French and Dutch people think that advertising today is boring. WE THINK ADVERTISING IS BORING
WE WANT FUN ! When asked what they most expected from advertising, the number one response in all countries was “ a sense of fun ”. * * Source: Meios & Publicidade from Portugal. Countries surveyed: Spain, Italy, France, The Netherlands, Germany and Britain.
RESPONSE Alternate Reality Games are being used as one way to re-address the balance.
“ An Alternate Reality Game ( ARG ) is a type of game that overlaps the game world with reality, by utilizing real world media, in order to deliver an interactive narrative experience to the players - a kind of surrealism. ARGs are typified by involving the players with the story and its characters, by encouraging them to explore the story, solve plot-based challenges, and interact with game characters. ARGs can be delivered via websites, email, telephones, banners or any other means of communication, which is readily available to the players. ARGs are growing in popularity, with new games appearing regularly. They tend to be free to play, with costs absorbed either through supporting products or because they support or promote an existing product.” Source: Wikipedia
Cathy’s Book tells the story of Cathy Vickers, a 17-year old aspiring artist attempting to find out why her boyfriend has just dumped her. To solve the mystery readers are invited to: * Investigate an evidence pack attached to the inside cover of the book that includes letters, photographs, a fictional restaurant menu and pages torn from the diary of Cathy’s ex-boyfriend; * Visit a series of websites, some of which existed in the real world before the book was published (e.g. the Musée Mécanique www.museemechanique.org/ in San Francisco) and some of which were constructed solely for this ARG (e.g. MySpace profiles of Cathy www.myspace.com/cathy_vickers and her best friend Emma www.myspace.com/emma_ cheung ); * Call several telephone numbers, such as the one on the cover of the book that leads to a series of voicemail messages. …but none of these activities are essential to understand the book’s plot.
Halfway through the book, Cathy talks about wearing "a killer coat of Lipslicks in 'Daring.' ” Lipslicks is a line of lip gloss made by Cover Girl, who has signed an unusual marketing partnership with the book’s publisher, Running Press. Cover Girl, owned by Procter & Gamble, has neither paid the publisher nor the book's authors, Sean Stewart and Jordan Weisman, for the privilege of having their makeup showcased in the novel. Instead P&G will promote the book on Beinggirl.com , a website directed at adolescent girls that features, amongst other things, tips on makeup. As another example of the brand’s appearance in the book, the illustration pictured here appears on page 45 and makes reference to our heroine’s makeup - all products from Cover Girl. However this kind of product placement is still relatively rare in books.
In October of this year a strange series of TV adverts began showing on MTV Brazil. They showed a white, ultra-clean environment with a plastic-like man talking about harmony, peace of mind, and a future without conflicts before displaying a link at the end: www.institutopurifica.com.br Viewers began discussing the mysterious adverts in forum posts and blogs. It became apparent that they formed part of an ARG created by MTV Brazil. The ARG is set in the year 2084, with artificial intelligence having spread so widely that it controls everything, including humans. To try and save the Earth, a member of the Instituto Purifica (“The Purification Institute”) called Herman Obina (pictured) travels back in time to the year 2006 to organise a human resistance against MTV Brazil, which is blamed as the source of the planet’s problems.
www.institutopurifica.com.br/eaoia Password 1: felizz Password 2: buentrec Of course the Instituto Purifica slowly emerges as the villain of the ARG. Viewers can help defeat this threat by finding hidden pages on the Purifica website, such as those pictured below, by visiting banners spread on various websites, watching the various commercials broadcast on MTV Brazil, and by reading MTV magazine. An MTV presenter called Rafa (pictured) emerges as a hero of the story. Participants can follow his blog www4.mtv.terra.com.br/blogosfera/?b=blog_do_rafa in which he releases secret info about the IP.
The Lost Experience is an ARG released to coincide with ABC’s Lost, the hit television drama about survivors of a plane crash who have been stranded on a mysterious island. Players are invited to collect information from a diverse range of websites, blogs, banners, voicemail messages, television and newspaper ads, a published novel and of course from clues in the television series itself.
Websites for fictional organisations or individuals mentioned in the show form a key part of the ARG, and also revealed a great deal of background information that is not accessible through watching the television series by itself. Sites for Oceanic Airlines www.oceanic-air.com/ , the fictional airline company involved in the crash, and The Hanso Foundation thehansofoundation.org/ , a fictional corporation repeatedly referred to in the show, reveal clues through mouse clicks on faintly marked anomalies in the page design or through entering passwords often found in other offline media, such as the voicemail services. The character Rachel Blake, also known as Persephone, is introduced to help guide players through the campaign via her blogs: stophanso . rachelblake .com and rachelblake .com .
A television advert for The Hanso Foundation was broadcast during the episode of Lost shown May 24 th , with a disclaimer that it was "paid for by Monster.com." The advert included a mention of the Hanso Foundation Careers website www.hansocareers.com / , an online job search engine “powered by Monster”.
www.qubadigitalmarketing.com/banners/lost.htm www.qubadigitalmarketing.com/banners/sky_1.htm www.qubadigitalmarketing.com/banners/sky_2.htm The campaign also included web banners advertising the fictional organisations in the show, including Oceanic Airlines and Drive Shaft www.driveshaftband.com/ , the band of lead character Charlie Pace. As in the previous examples, the authenticity of the ARG’s “reality” is maintained by the absence of direct mentions for either Lost or ABC.
:: Further ARG-related links :: - Alternate Reality Gaming ( Wikipedia ) en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alternate_reality_game - Alternate Reality Gaming Network argn.com/ - Interview with the Author of Cathy’s book www.intellinuts.com/blog/?page_id=200 - Cathy’s Book Answers Call, Delivers Hot, Extra-large Pizza Pie of Awesome www.argn.com/archive/000471the_hour_of_needing_a_title_for_this_article_cathys_book_answers_call_delivers_hot_extralarge_pizza_pie_of_awesome.php - Product Placement Deals Make Leap From Film to Books (NY Times) www.nytimes.com/2006/06/12/business/media/12book.html?pagewanted=1&ex=1307764800en=89d58b622aa65b7dei=5088partner=rssnytemc=rss - Purifica Institute Commercials (You Tube) www.youtube.com/results?search_query=instituto+purifica&search=Search - The Lost Experience www.thelostexperience.com/ - The Lost Experience Clues thelostexperienceclues.blogspot.com/ - Lostpedia lostpedia.com/ - The Lost Experience TV Commercials (You Tube) www.youtube.com/results?search_query=hanso+foundation&search=Search
Any questions? Thank you! Yami Trequesser Planner / Project Manager at Them www.themlondon.com Yami @themlondon.com (+44) 208 392 6821