1-18-08 — Viral Marketing Strategies in Hollywood Cinema
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Viral is a term now commonly used to describe entire marketing campaigns, or elements of promotional strategies for any number of consumer goods, services and media products. This chapter will focus particularly on Hollywood’s use of viral marketing, notably, more complex viral campaigns which encourage immersion in and interaction with the world of the film before, during and after viewing; allowing the viewer to shape, or at least appear to shape, their cinematographic experience. It will suggest that viral campaigns mark a shift away from what Justin Wyatt (1994) calls ‘high concept’ filmmaking and marketing. Campaigns for films such as The Blair Witch Project (Sanchez and Myrick, 1999), Cloverfield (Matt Reeves, 2008), A.I.: Artificial Intelligence (Steven Spielberg, 2001) and The Dark Knight (Christopher Nolan, 2008) demonstrate a change in the relationship between producer and consumer to a point where producers encourage consumers to be active, rather than passive, by withholding information on forthcoming releases and daring consumers to follow trails of online clues to get at the information. This move to encourage agency, or the appearance of agency, in the cinematographic experience is often discouraged in other areas of the industry, for example, distribution. This chapter therefore questions the motives behind such elaborate online campaigns, arguing that the deliberate positioning of the viewer as investigator is accompanied by an extension of the filmic world (as opposed to simply an extension of narrative online) to produce a seemingly immersive experience. This can be, but is not always, reflected in the aesthetics of the film itself, and can transform a piece of marketing material into an entertainment experience in its own right.
KeywordsMotion Sickness Marketing Campaign Online Marketing Internet Archive Viral Marketing
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