As friends and colleagues will testify, I hate the word viral with a passion. I've lost count of the number of press releases I've received saying, "We've produced a viral." No you haven't you've produced a video that you're hoping lots of people will watch. And as for being asked, "Can we get this going viral," the answer, obviously, depends on the strength of content. But when a viral's done well, it's hard not to be impressed and the new viral marketing campaign for the new Batman movie, The Dark Knight Rises, is very cool indeed.
Slash Film sums up the story nicely:
"Fans had to work Friday morning to reveal the first official image of Bane from The Dark Knight Rises. Along with Thursday’s unexciting press release announcing the beginning of production on Christopher Nolan‘s highly anticipated third part in his Batman trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises, Warner Bros. also launched the film’s official website www.thedarkknightrises.com. Originally, if you clicked over there, it was just a black image with some really weird chanting. A fan was able to look at the visual spectrum of that audio file and in it was…a Twitter Hashtag. You can’t make this stuff up. The hashtag, #thefirerises, when tweeted, slowly revealed, pixel by pixel, some kind of image on the site."
Very clever. Not only does it get the fan community interested, it gives them a reason to Tweet the hashtag, as there's a reward at the end of it, even if that reward is just an early advance publicity shot. It's a win-win situation that clearly knows the audience it's aimed at and, playing to that, lets the community take a slight bit of control.
But then Warner Brothers have an excellent reputation for this sort of thing, so you'd expect nothing less. It's clever, inventive and shows a level of understanding way beyond just sticking a video up on YouTube.
And it works. I'm a big Batman fan and, while I know it's just a picture, it's Bane! Bane! You have no idea how excited this has made my inner geek.