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Holy Viral Marketing, Batman!


Here’s a tip for the Dark Knight marketing department: Dummy websites will not generate nearly as much buzz as movie trailers.

I suspect this free advice is falling of deaf ears, if the Dark Knight‘s dozen or so viral websites are any indication. Viral marketing is meant to increase brand awareness. In the Dark Knight‘s case, this makes little sense: Do they really need to increase brand awareness on Batman? It’s Batman! He sells himself!  Plus, I’m thinking anybody who has a 10-spot to dump on a 100 minutes of entertainment surely knows who Batman is by now.

So why does the Dark Knight need to resort to viral marketing?  Are multitudes of mindless movie-going drones flocking to the Dark Knight viral websites like rats to the Pied Piper’s flute?

The recipe behind these viral sites is plain enough:

  1. Reserve cutesy domain name related to some arcane aspect of the movie.
  2. Assign web development team to design and implement a realistic-looking website that plays on the cutesy domain name.
  3. Load it up with images (or better yet — hints of images) from the upcoming film.
  4. Drop the URL at a few strategic websites.
  5. Watch the traffic ramp up.
  6. Watch the buzz increase up to the movie’s opening.
  7. Watch the opening weekend ticket sales go through the roof.

What I don’t get is the lure that these websites are supposed to have
for moviegoers and why they seem to work. Apparently we are supposed
to be combing over these sites looking for even the smallest clues
about the upcoming film. (Oh look!  “Harvey Dent Put Dirty Cops Behind
Bars!” That tells me…exactly nothing!)  But why else would I want to
visit  Even more curious are the offshoot “rival” sites and, not to mention the related  What’s the point there?

Oh sure, I might want to get a little Gotham City flavor (as disgusting as that sounds) by checking out, or
because, you know, nothing makes me want to spend money on movies more
than reading poorly-written, tell-nothing blurbs about fictional movie cities.

At least the Joker-related viral sites have fun with it.  First there was Now there’s the Joker’s parody of It’s called Now that’s comedy. At least it is in the world of Dark Knight viral sites.

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