Imagine you receive an invitation to something intriguing. Something that appeals to your specific interests, feeds your curiosity, and gradually leads you to a magical experience that engages you.
It sounds more like something out of a Harry Potter movie than what we often think of as advertising, but people and agencies are crafting such campaigns regularly. And not only have they been effective in creating product awareness, they are becoming a respected and recognized method – even receiving awards at Webbys.
A well-known and classic example is “the Beast”, an ARG (Alternate Reality Game) created to support the theatrical release of AI. It was “an elaborate murder mystery played out across hundreds of websites, email messages, faxes, fake ads, and voicemail messages” (footnote needed), that garnered a great deal of attention for the movie, and spawned an online community that stayed active for years after the actual promotion ended.
Another excellent example was the campaign created for Coraline by Wieden + Kennedy, which went far beyond traditional film marketing. In addition to a stunning web presence, their team worked to create public curiosity through interactive public displays in shop windows. And then they went further – sending packages and puzzles to strategically chosen web personalities, garnering their imaginations and curiosity, and then using their voices online to spread the word even further.
In a basic sense, integrated marketing and ARGs can be used as pervasive and stimulating advertising. But they offer something much deeper.
Rather than adding to the barrage of information being lobbed at consumers on dashed near every front – they are an opportunity to engage the imagination and hearts of people – to create a relationship with customers, and build an identity.
And the tools and options are really just limited by your creativity – since the bulk of civilizations tools all rendered down and combined in your pocket, like a conceptual swiss army knife that keeps growing every day.
It brings with it a full spectrum of potentialities – giving us not only the ability to communicate with ease and directness not even dreamt of 50 years ago. With all of those tools for engagement at our disposal – imagine the possibilities!