08 June 2008

ARG ASAP

So, we launched an ARG (alternate reality game) this week for one of our clients. If you are looking for a project that will consume your every waking moment, look no further than an ARG.

The basics of an ARG are simple... scratch that. Nothing about an ARG is simple. Simply put, it is the most complex marketing one can take on.

Here's how it works, you write a story and play it out through a series of challenges or missions online (or in real life) using the internet as the primary media to communicate objectives to players. What this entails is database work, multiple web presences, a mix of traditional media and continuous interaction with the players.

Here's what we did: Our client is launching their product in late July, and needed to create a buzz with teens before school ended. The last issue of the teen newspaper hit the streets on June 2, meaning we had to be there - but with not even a logo ready, our challenge was what do we put there that will resonate 6 to 8 weeks later when they finally open their doors for business. We pitched them the idea of a game, with the objective to find the location. This would buy us at least 8 weeks - we could issue challenges each week, with each mission solved, the player gets closer to the location and some prizes. Sounds simple enough, right?

The ARG was launched online June 2 and in just a few short days has gathered unbelievable attention from our target audience in our city and from all over the globe. Apparently, ARG's have a very dedicated following and news of this new game spread quickly.

To date, we have launched two missions - the first was a simple message that required decoding and was quickly figured out by some players in under a minute. When we were developing the first mission I gave up after 10 minutes and said that it was too hard... but, I'm not in the target audience then, am I? The players that got through this were treated with a video on Youtube asking them to recruit more agents.

The second mission was a photograph of the inside of an elevator, with morse code on one of the walls, players had to decipher the code then enter it as a username and password to get the next reward... a pdf of the logo - doesn't sound like much, but it will be required to solve future missions.

The client has gotten very involved in the planning of this ARG and has helped develop the story further than we could have imagined which is great. The mix of creative and story makes the ARG compelling and hard to ignore. It's important to work closely with the client on any marketing endeavour, but this type of integrated partnership will ensure that both parties are key to a successful product launch.

I can't say much about the client, other than they embraced the idea with open arms and are very excited about the project. I can see great things happening for the chaps at ****, oops, I just about said their name!

I will report on the outcome of the ARG in a later blog.

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