This week seems to be all about things I’ve stumbled onto while doing research. This morning it was the “I Love Bees” website. This website is not, in fact, about bees. Although it appears to be.
I’ll start over.
Before the launch of Halo 2, a massively popular video game, some pretty unique marketing was put into play. Through various methods potential fans were directed to the website ILoveBees.com. Some, for example, received actual jars of honey in the mail with directions to the website somehow contained within. Upon visiting the site these people received an error screen. You can still see it if you go to the site yourself.
Now, this took place years ago so I didn’t see it play out, but from what I’ve gathered the error screen starting leading people to clues embedded all over the website. For example, if you go to the “View” menu at the top of your browser and select “Page Source” you can see the underlying code that comprises any website. This is the stuff that your browser then reads and turns into a nice neat web page for you to view. It is possible to embed stuff in this code that can only be seen by viewing the code itself, not to mention provide links to other sites or files which don’t necessarily need to be in any way shown when the browser displays the page.
By following these clues visitors eventually began to unravel a much larger game, like a cross between a treasure hunt and a series of riddles, which was loosely based on the events of Halo 2, the video game being marketed. Within the construct of this game the “I Love Bees” website had been corrupted by a rogue program which needed help figuring out what was going on due to a memory wipe. At one point the players (and keep in mind that anyone who wanted to help unravel the mystery could be considered a player) were even given GPS coordinates and numbers which corresponded to pay phone locations and the times that phone calls would come in containing recordings that furthered the plot or provided more clues.
This is amazing to me. On so many levels. Not the least of which is the storytelling potential of this sort of interactivity. Imagine you didn’t just sit in a theater and hear Darth Vader tell Luke that he was his father, but instead you sat up waiting until a set time when some stranger waiting by a telephone would get a phone call before reporting back to a chat room in order to tell everyone that he had just spoken to Darth Vader…and that Darth Vader claimed to be Luke’s father.
Sadly, sitting here right now, I can’t even begin to imagine how to go about putting something like this together. But you can color me intrigued and I most certainly plan to learn more about this type of advertising.
It just seems like so much damned fun.
With great irony I can almost foresee a time when writing books is merely a day job that supports me while I pursue my true love…advertising those books.
Man the internet is weird.