Marketing Campaigns:The Dark Knight ‘WhySo Serious?’ Campaignvs.The AnchormanMarketing Campaign.
‘Why So Serious?’• The ‘Why So Serious?’ campaign was for The Dark Knight, in 2007/8. It was an interactive, online based game, in which players were encouraged to side with either ‘The Joker’ or ‘Harvey Dent’. Players were contacted by e-mail, or via phone, during the game, making ‘Gotham City’ spill into the real world.• The campaign was originally not intended to focus so sharply on ‘The Joker’; however, following the death of Heath Ledger, Warner Brothers decided to capitalise on his tragic death and shifted the focus of the campaign onto ‘The Joker’.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YDkh62oL1Y4&feature=related• This is the voice message that players received after signing up for the game. This was one of many phone calls received by players from ‘The Joker’. This use of phone calls, as well as e-mails, made the players feel involved with the game and the film, as it gave them the chance to uncover things for themselves about the film (such as trailers, images etc)
The Website.• www.whysoserious.com is the website for the campaign. The initial homepage appears to be a messy desk, but all the ‘objects’ are actually links. These links lead to different online pages, which were part of the campaign. This includes a vandalised ‘Gotham Times’ newspaper, police reports from the ‘Gotham Police Department’ and a ‘personality test’ to see if a player was worthy of being a ‘clown’.• The website also featured a black banner, as a memorial to Heath Ledger, who died during the filming of the film, and there is still a link to the gva foundation on the website.
• Many, many people were involved in ‘The Joker’s’ team. They were encouraged to take to the streets, wearing full Joker make-up, and protest about another character in the film, ‘Harvey Dent’.• They had to take pictures of clues, which could be found across the US, and post them online. This unlocked trailers and other content, but also got the public involved in the film.• http://www.youtube.com/user/ClownsAgainstDent This is a YouTube channel for a ‘clown protester’, showing videos that bash ‘Harvey Dent’, and which show the person having full support for ‘The Joker’.
‘I Believe In Harvey Dent’• Following ‘The Joker’ contacting players and causing protests worldwide, other players were contacted by ‘Harvey Dent’, asking for support against ‘The Joker’, and to bring Gotham back to order.• http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen &NR=1&v=26yDweuWng0• Players received this phone message, and were encouraged to counter-protest, wearing t-shirts with the slogan, or dressing as the character.
Why was this campaign so successful?• Target audience: this campaign hit the exact right target audience. People who enjoy ARG are also people who generally enjoy comic-book hero adaptations. It also hits the right target audience, as young people often want to make a stand and be heard, and young people are usually tech-savvy and the main demographic of the internet, where the game originated.• The scale: this campaign was huge. It blurred the lines of reality and imagination for millions of people. This film was widely anticipated, so there was already excitement for it, and having a huge online campaign, feeding content bit by bit, was a way to heighten this excitement and make it huge. The fact it was also worldwide helped this, as well.
Why was this campaign sosuccessful?• Heath Ledger’s death: Warner Brothers really cashed in on this (which angered me greatly), as this game (and many of the other advertisements) have him as The Joker in the main focus. It is widely known that Heath Ledger’s death was a result of a mental breakdown due to preparing for his role as The Joker, and a scandal like that can either make or break a film. Warner Brothers used his death as a means of creating excitement for the film. By having him the main focus, people immediately wanted to be part of anything involving The Joker, as they wanted to understand why preparing for the role had destroyed Heath Ledger.• The first film: the first film was a huge hit, and so the sequel was widely anticipated. Because the first was a massive hit, anything fans could get involving the sequel would’ve been latched on to in anticipation for ‘The Dark Knight’.
Why was the campaign so successful?• Batman’s non-appearance: Batman does not feature in this campaign, which you’d think he would, seeing as he is the main character. The fact that he doesn’t appear almost sets the audience up for the film, as The Joker and Harvey Dent have been running around doing this viral campaign, without Batman interfering. It’s almost like the film the game is the bit we don’t see before the film, and Batman coming in and sorting them out is the end of it. I could probably phrase this better but the words aren’t coming to me. Basically, Batman not being there builds more excitement, because the audience wants to see what Batman will do about all these shenanigans in the film.
Anchorman’s Friendster Campaign• Anchorman launched a campaign on Friendster, in which they created user profiles for the characters and had a banner across the top of the webpage.• This campaign was pretty much a fail. The characters only had a couple of hundred ‘friend requests’ each, which is nothing compared to the amount of people online.
This shows the banner used, and the friend‘profile request’. It’s all pretty basic.
Why was this not successful?• The time: in 2004, social networking was not what it is today. The fact that they used a site like ‘Friendster’ shows this, as nobody really uses ‘Friendster’ any more, and I don’t even really know what it is.• The campaign was pretty basic: make character profiles and put a big banner on the website. These character profiles would have been funny at first, if they posted (once again, I don’t know what Friendster does), but they would’ve become dull after a while, as it is nothing new after time.
Comparing the two campaigns• Time: as I said before, social networking in 2004 was not what it is today. Technology moves on so fast, which can be seen in the way that only 3 or 4 years later, another company utilised social networking sites and made a huge campaign.• Interactivity: the ‘Why So Serious?’ campaign was worldwide, and was interactive, whilst the Friendster campaign was not. It may have been worldwide, but it didn’t get people involved in the same way that that The Dark Knight’s campaign did.• Budget: The Dark Knight was a sequel to a very successful blockbuster, whilst Anchorman wasn’t, meaning that it would have had more budget to do this online thing than Anchorman.
Comparison (cont)• History: everybody knows Batman. Everybody loves Batman. Not everybody knows Ron Burgandy. At the time of release of ‘The Dark Knight’, Batman was a well established character, as were The Joker and Harvey Dent, other characters involved in the campaign. Before Anchorman, Ron Burgandy didn’t exist, and so there was no connection between the character and the intended audience. This meant the audience would be less likely to get involved in something to do with this film.