Julian Gratton

Prometheus: The most interesting viral marketing campaign I’ve seen this year

At the moment we seem to be getting more and more Olympic related advertisements as the country gears up to the London 2012. With so much money thrown behind sponsorship deals and having athletes as brand spokespeople, you'd think there would be one campaign that would impress. Yet, the campaign that has most impressed me this year has to be the marketing activity being conducted on behalf of Sir Ridley Scott's forthcoming movie 'Prometheus'.

At the moment we seem to be getting more and more Olympic related advertisements as the country gears up to the London 2012. With so much money thrown behind sponsorship deals and having athletes as brand spokespeople, you’d think there would be one campaign that would impress. Yet, the campaign that has most impressed me this year has to be the marketing activity being conducted on behalf of Sir Ridley Scott’s forthcoming movie ‘Prometheus’.

Now I’ll be honest with you. I don’t have that much interest in the Olympics, and I am a big movie fan… so my views are probably biased. Yet as an ‘Ad Man’, I am genuinely in awe with what I am seeing created to raise awareness of Prometheus. Now forget about the flashy website and the teaser trailers and international trailers that come attached to any movie release… what I want to highlight are some of the cute and clever things that have been done to raise awareness of what will probably be one of the year’s biggest films.

The ‘TED Talk’ from the future.

The team behind ‘Prometheus’ obviously knew that the core target market for their film would be people who have an interest in Technology, Entertainment and Design (TED). After all, it’s pretty safe to assume that virtually everyone who works in these industries has an appreciation for Sir Ridley Scott’s classic movie Alien (thanks to the H.R. Geiger design work) and of course the genius that is Blade Runner.

And for anyone who works in Technology, Entertainment and Design, the must-see online talks to watch are those published as part of the global TED conferences. These talks have in the past been hosted by a ‘who’s who’ of global geniuses, from Al Gore to Bill Gates and Seth Godin and are archived online at TED.com, a site that has been viewed over 500 million times.

One of the key characters of the ‘Alien’ Universe is a guy called Peter Weyland who in Prometheus is played by Guy Pierce. He’s a charismatic industry leader and it’s his company that is essentially behind sending people into space to go and discover the Xenomorphs that like to make a meal of us human beings. TED worked with the team behind promoting ‘Prometheus’ to produce a 3 minute talk (Directed by Luke Scott – Sir Ridley’s son) that was launched on the TED website and promoted to all their followers and discusses artificial life. As well as the video they also created an authentic TED landing page to try their best to add realism to the video.

In a short space of time the video went viral with 20,000 people posting it on their Facebook pages, over 6,000 people tweeting and on one YouTube channel alone the video has been viewed over 400,000 times.

Prometheus Mission Connect.

In the US Prometheus has teamed up with the mobile network Verizon to deliver ‘Prometheus Mission Connect’, which allows smartphone users (and those old fashioned desktop computer users) to explore the spaceship Prometheus and solve mission problems to unlock exclusive content and gain entry to a prize draw to win a trip to London.

As part of their tie-in with the film, Verizon have been using the film to help promote their ViOS service (which covers broadband, phone and TV access) on the likes of this website and via their Facebook page… but probably the nicest thing Verizon has been involved in is helping fund some press adverts which (at time of writing) are launching in the US to promote the second viral video aimed at raising awareness of the film… and that viral is for David 8.

Introducing David 8.

David 8 is the second viral short from the film that has had the internet going crazy, mainly because of the unsettling nature of the performance of Michael Fassbender (who plays David 8) and the superb scripts which has David 8 calmly telling us… “I can do almost anything that can be asked of me, I can carry out directives that my human counterparts might find distressing or unethical”.

The film is a kind of infomercial from the future and is lovingly written, directed and art-directed. It has a wonderful ‘Kubrickian’ feel to it and ties the modern-day effects that we see in the Prometheus trailer in nicely with the 1970s effects (and look) of the original Alien.

Needless to say the internet (and traditional media) went crazy over this viral with it appearing on the BBC’s ‘Click’ technology programme, in various newspapers and blogs and ultimately has received hundreds of thousands of views across YouTube alone.

Weyland Industries website

The Prometheus campaign wasn’t content with just launching an official website, they also launched a second site called weylandindustries.com. A fake corporate website from the fictional company that are funding the Prometheus space mission in the film.

The site is filled with information (many presented in infographics) that tells you statistics on the company’s achievements and current standing in the world. There is news on current and upcoming projects including the creation of David 8 and, of course, the planned flight of the Prometheus spacecraft.

Their services include everything from transport to ‘terraforming’, and each area is covered extensively with copy and supporting pictures and paints a fabulous picture of what kind of universe we can expect to see in the upcoming movie and what the motivations of the fictional company and its staff are.

The beauty of the site lies though in its gamification aspect. Visitors are encouraged to sign-up to the site and then have to complete challenges to unlock exclusive content and find out more about the fictional world that has been created.

Project Prometheus

Scroll through the above Weyland Industries site and you’ll find lots of links to Project Prometheus, which when clicked on, takes you to another site altogether called projectprometheus.com. This site looks similar in design to the Weyland Industries site, however, here the content is focused on the upcoming Prometheus project.

It gives background information on the project itself and why it is going ahead (which proves to be a useful back story to the movie). Close up shots of the ship (Prometheus) and a breakdown of how it operates. There are also images of the equipment on the Prometheus, including the Med Pod (a medical bay that we see being used in the movie to extract something that looks like an alien).

Are you seeing this?

And if that wasn’t enough, the Prometheus marketing team hooked up with Channel 4 to host the world premiere of a trailer with a difference. Not content with showing new footage from the film, the end of the trailer invited people to tweet what they thought of it, with the hashtag #areyouseeingthis attached.

During the next ad break, Channel 4 then broadcast selected tweets in the next ad break to show off people’s thoughts and excitement over the new footage shown. The Twitter stunt certainly seems to have boosted hype surrounding the film to an even more intense level than before: the hashtag #areyouseeingthis was the No 2 trend in the UK at one point on Sunday night, and a similar campaign has been underway in the US.

That may not be all.

The campaign for Prometheus has been incredibly vast and no doubt I will have missed something. Plus it’s highly likely that with a month to go until release… the team behind promoting the movie will have something else up their sleeve. If they do, I will add it to this blog article. Until then, just enjoy the videos and websites above and marvel at the creativity involved. Now we’ve just got to cross fingers and toes that the movie is as epic as its viral marketing!

Update 16th May 2012

Well it didn’t take long for another viral video to go live. Here’s a fascinating character piece that gives an insight into the obsessiveness of one of the main characters Dr Elizabeth Shaw via a futuristic phonecall.

Update May 2012

This campaign just gets better and better with the addition of a transformed and abandoned Saint-Martin station into a cave resembling the one found in the movie. Passengers also get a look at some artifacts as the train moves past the platform. Genius idea.

More viral content… after the film’s release!

So Prometheus is now in cinemas across the world and their epic viral campaign has finally come to an end. Or has it?

Astonishingly, new content (that isn’t shown in the movie) is now available at a new website called www.whatis101112.com. The site features a new viral ad of one of the movie’s characters, Peter Weyland (Guy Pearce) psyching himself up to do the TED speech that was released as part of the viral campaign back in February.

In the viral video Weyland mutters the line “I am a law only for my kind, I am no law for all.” The tag on the video is:Thus Spoke Zarathustra, a title of a book by German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, the book itself is also shown on the front of the website. Apparently its content deals with ideas such as eternal recurrence of the same and the parable of the death of God. Could this possibly be part of the themes explored in a sequel? Has the sequel already been made? At the moment know one knows, but we’ll be certainly keeping you updated over the coming months!

Peter Weyland – Thus Spoke Zarathustra (HD) Prometheus Teaser