Viral Marketing Case Study 001: Cloverfield

These days, the release of a movie’s trailer is almost as big as the release of the movie itself. Due to this, it is hard to keep anything a secret.  However, when done correctly, viral marketing can be seen at its finest at the movies.

So yes…let’s take a cue from the movies. Check out how effective viral marketing can be.

cloverfield-2-1024One of the better examples of the past ten years or so (or, depending on who you ask, ever) was the viral marketing push behind Cloverfield in 2008. The trailer came out of nowhere and was attached to the highly anticipated Transformers film. The day after Transformers release, more people were talking about this trailer than the Transformers movie.

That’s because there was no name given to the trailer. It was a trailer for a movie with no name. The trailer showed a party and then a disastrous scene as the party-goers ran to their roof and saw that NYC was apparently under attack by something. Rather than a title, audiences were given a release date: 1-18-08.

And that’s where the viral marketing kicked in.

Clever movie-goers figured out that the date could be used as a website handle when entered into an address bar as www.1-18-08.com. The site offered very little—just still photographs that were distributed every few weeks.

This set the internet on fire. People became obsessed with trying to find clues in the trailer. This led to someone eventually noticing an odd logo on a character’s shirt—a logo for a product called Slusho. This led to the discovery of a website for the fictional Slusho soda. The trail apparently ended here until the About section was discovered and readers found a bio on the founder of the company. This led to another site which led to another site, eventually leading a very determined audience to the website of the soda’s parent corporation…who just happens to be into deep sea drilling.

As if this weren’t enough, many of the characters seen in the trailer were given MySpace accounts (remember MySpace?) where very vague and subtle movie hints were doled out in bios and comment threads.

While the chances are good that your small business doesn’t have the budget for these sorts of tricks, there are many jumping points to be considered here. Have fun with your viral marketing and find ways to have your target audience become obsessed to the level of Cloverfield fans.

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