Okay, since some high profile (for Canada) marketing campaign done in the form of an alternate reality game was released, I figure I should probably take a good look at it and think about it in terms of my project. Things like what I’d do different and how to improve on the design and what not.
For those uninitiated, and for my own reference, Much Music had someone slipping weird, static-y videos into their feed at random intervals. They were very carefully placed, though at the time it was so weird to see something interrupting the regular broadcast that you weren’t sure what was going on. The shock factor was so bizarre that people didn’t do much more than speculate.
Then the link showed up. Good move. It was a blogspot blog. Really, would have been better if they hadn’t bought the domain then set up the blog. The blog with a blogspot url would have worked pretty well to establish credibility too.
The problems also started with the blog, though. It was clear that this guy was doing it for shits and giggles and had no point to it. One of those going out with a bang quitting interns. Yet he called himself an activist fighting the power without any goal, rhyme or reason behind his actions. The attacks were random.
Or rather, they were. Until I saw two episodes of Video on Trial in one day with the exact same interruption in them at the same time. I’ll admit, I’m very slow. This was the thing that tipped me off first. Granted, I hadn’t found the blog yet.
And then I saw the explanation for the hacks on his site. And they did not coincide with what I saw. Worse, I saw a screenshot of an alert sent out to the Much employees to proceed as if nothing was happening. First off, his default is Arial while the email is in trebuchet (which bothered the crap out of me for some reason. Come on, Courier is more credible!) and if he’s a tech genius WHY IS HE USING OUTLOOK?! And no Firefox either. I disbelieve him completely.
It also raises the question very plainly of why the VJs didn’t react to it in the first place. Why NO ONE reacted.
Started paying a little more attention at this point. Meaning I actually checked the site once a week to see what was going on and I was happy listening to people point out that it was a fake. Also, noticed that the username was exactly what they were going to do. Phreak the MMVAs (Much Music Video Awards) on June 15. Original. Name him after the marketing campaign. Woot?
Might have worked better if you were clear on the intent right off the bat. Suddenly he has a motive way too late in the game.
A good while later, they release the Find the Phreak contest on Much. It’s cheesy, it’s a pain in the ass and it sounds like management talking to a tech team trying to sound like they know what they’re doing. In short, it pissed me off.
Some time in here they started randomly putting Phreak masks in random indie hipster emo clothing stores that were well out of reach of the Phreak’s location. Nice to see them getting into the audience participating in the game physically. Fail for not adhering to the geographic limitations.
And then they stop pretending that it was anything but a marketing campaign. All of the MMVA commercials have those Youtube videos from the camwhores who believe it or think that they can get their half second of fame. Embedded into the video. Overtop of cheap and cheesy videos that go against their branding for the MMVAs at perfectly timed intervals.
And no more phreaks of the shows. It turned into an outright marketing thing, contained entirely in the commercials.
Way too long after that, Phreak shows up in the commercials for the contest. Sorry, buddy, way too late given your character. Not believable. But that does bring us to the present state of affairs.
So first they needed a reason for the Phreak to stick to. Putting the reason into his name, fine. Not announcing the reason outright, fail.
No one reacted. Don’t tell the VJs what’s going on and see how they react. It makes it feel more legitimate when someone on air, especially live, acknowledges that something’s happening and they don’t know what’s happening.
Embedding it into the video. BAD IDEA if you’re going to explain it like that. Instead, play the little phreaked video once and only once. And don’t perfectly time it either. Have it actually overlap some stuff. Cut off the end of a VJ throwing and over the front end of a video. Hang off a video and into commercial. Make it seem like he’s trying out something.
Video quality. Lower it. The video itself is low (better if it looked like cam work), but the production looks a bit like Video on Trial. And some of those clips are expensive to get. I know from trying to find stock video for my project last semester. And a little less audio production too.
If it built UP to that quality based on suggestions from users, that might have worked better.
Youtube and Blogspot involvement were good. Be better if they knew how to use their involvement there, but still a good idea.
Don’t post screenshots of your character’s computer to people who might be familiar with the demographic. Or, at least, install the right programs. Honestly, how many techs still use Outlook when they can get stuff forwarded to anywhere else that’s not a Microsoft product?
I don’t know enough about the physical aspects of ARGs to comment much, but it seems like posting a map and saying “Go here” is a shitty way of going about things. How about clues? Hints rather than outright, “If you live in the area, visit this trendy clothing store and get the mask.”
You know, what might have salvaged this was making it not a marketing campaign. The relation to the MMVAs made the whole thing very cheap and the phreaks were all so pointless before the connection. They had the potential to gain some potency over time when he found his legs, but now it’s just a pain in the ass. Doesn’t even phreak the shows anymore. It’s all part of the commercials. No point.
Want some semblance of decent? Hint that they should watch during one of the popular much countdown shows and give the viewers the gift of the Hamster Dance. Or maybe some Thrice. Get some exposure to the lesser played and forgotten. Play all of Thriller over a commercial break and into a show. Video from the 70s. You know, something that might have a point to it. Tell the world he wants to help Canada by forcing his music tastes on them.
Or swear on television. That would have shown me.