Cloverfield’s Viral Marketing Campaign

By: DC-Wolf 

Winding back time to July 2007, to the release of the first Michael Bay-directed Transformers, a mysterious teaser popped up showcasing a camcorder-filmed party that quickly escalated as explosions erupted outside in New York City. As the party-goers run outside to get a better view of what’s going on, a monstrous roar is heard from a distance, followed by the head of Lady Liberty thrown towards them. The footage quickly cuts to black, only revealing that J.J. Abrams is producing it and its release date is January 18, 2008.  A bit of a frenzy broke out online as people attempted to deconstruct every little second of the teaser—as well as the roar, trying to figure out what sort of creature is rampaging through the streets of New York City. Though very little information about the film was officially released–other than its title, Cloverfield, the film’s marketing team went to work, pushing out a crazy strong viral marketing campaign for the movie in hopes of creating hype. They did so by creating a sort of puzzle, in the form of several different websites, in order to clue people in to what may have transpired before the Cloverfield’s monster’s rampage through New York City. From Myspace Pages to a Faux-Japanese slushy website, the viral marketing behind the original Cloverfield did a grand job at both immersing people into the film’s universe, while bewildering them at the same time.

 

Myspace Pages:

( http://cloverfieldclues.blogspot.com/2008/01/myspace-update-slusho-hires-rob_05.html)

Remember Myspace? For those kiddos out there it’s what ancient “emos” (or is the plural form emu?) used as a social media platform where they would customize it to blast Simple Plan music whenever you clicked on their page, as well as allowed them to passively display to their friends how they really feel about them through the “top-10 friends” ranking system on front page (Tom was always #1 for me!)

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Okay, back on topic—as strange as it may seem, the Cloverfield marketing team tried to make the film’s protagonists feel like real people by giving each of them their own social media page. It seemed pretty odd that the marketing team would put this amount of effort into fleshing-out their characters outside the film, but at the same time it did offer little hints about the film’s world. Rob Hawkins, played by Michael Stahl-David, posted on his Myspace page that he had recently received a position as the Vice President of Marketing and Promotions for then fictional slushy company, “Slusho,” located in Japan. For those who remembered the original film, this was the reason why he had a goodbye party prior to the monster’s attack. But what is so special about the company Slusho? Well this little fictional company is a famous Easter Egg that has showed up in almost every J.J. Abram film/TV show.

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Slusho!

( http://www.slusho.jp/)

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The faux-slushy brand is perhaps one of the biggest Easter Eggs that J.J. Abrams likes integrating into his films and TV Shows. Movies and TV shows that J.J. Abrams was involved with that used this Easter Egg includes: Alias, Lost, Fringe, and even Star Trek. Does this hint at a large-scaled shared universe—or perhaps remnants of an actual failed start-up for a slushy company? Probably neither, but within the wave of viral marketing sites connected to Cloverfield a faux-Japanese website for this brand did pop up. In the slushy’s website it provides a pseudo-history behind the creation of their slushies. According to their oddly intricate pseudo-history the special ingredient used in their slushies derives from a seabed nectar, which was discovered by the underwater petroleum excavation company, Tagruato. Upon this discovery the company’s CEO had some trippy fever dream where his dead mother tells him that this is the “tastiest ingredient ever.” It all sounds like a wonderful story until one visits the Tagruato website…

d2_slusho_1280x1024Tagruato

( http://www.tagruato.jp/index2.php)

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At a glance, the website for the faux-deep sea-drilling company looks fairly legitimate. According to their history page they were founded as a mining company on Kyūshū, Japan, in 1945. They later specialized in exporting engines and large construction vehicles to the West. It was during the 1980’s they hit hard times due to “scandals” and “great losses.” It was in 1989 when the CEO discovered the seabed nectar ingredient that would be used in Slusho that they were able to save their crumbling company. The only problem is that the part of ocean where his company stumbled onto this ingredient seemed to have disturbed something. Although their website’s headline suggests that they had altercations with eco-terrorists, Cloverfield’s final viral site provides a photo that suggest otherwise.  

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http://www.bannerblog.com.au/news/2007/08/070829_and_mysterious_marketing.php

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This website that the Cloverfield marketing team briefly put up provided several snapshots that relate to the film, with a new one added weekly. The first few pictures included several shots of Rob’s goodbye party, but soon the events depicted within each new photo escalated quickly as newly added shots begin to display moments during the monster’s attack. Then in a final snap shot it displays a beach full of partially-eaten, dead whales off the coast of where Tagruato was drilling.

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In the end, all of these sites connected in a way. The film’s protagonist, Rob Hawkins, announces on his Faceb—Myspace that he received a new position with the slushy company, Slusho, located in Japan. Slusho happens to be a subsidiary of the sea-drilling company, Tagruato, which appears to have a heavy hand in the monster’s attack, as can also be seen in the film as a ship baring their logo appears to be the first thing destroyed by the monster, which suggests that they caught it and were likely shipping it somewhere. In the end, whether you liked the film or not, there is no denying that the marketing campaign was madly-brilliant (though probably nowhere near as fun as Deadpool’s!). Even if the world-building probably went nowhere, the marketing team certainly did a great job creating these different puzzle pieces in order to help immerse people into the first film’s mythology.

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The Evolution of Mr. Freeze

By: DC-Wolf

“I failed you. I wish there were another way for me to say it. I cannot. I can only beg your forgiveness, and pray you hear me somehow, someplace… someplace where a warm hand waits for mine.”

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Victor Fries, AKA Mr. Freeze, is probably one of the more sympathetic and tragic villains within Batman’s rouge gallery. A brilliant scientist whose criminal acts derive from a single, sympathetic desire: to finds a cure for his sickly wife. Despite this, Mr. Freeze’s motivation wasn’t always like this; like any other comic book character, he has gone through a series of retcons that have changed his very mentality. Despite this, it was thanks to a single animated episode titled “Heart of Ice” that has left an enduring mark on this remarkable villain.

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               When first introduced in 1959’s Batman #121, Mr. Freeze’s name was originally “Mr. Zero.” Back then he was a goofier throw-away villain who was only driven by the desire to steal diamonds, AKA “ice” (*que laugh track*). It wasn’t until Mr. Zero’s character was used in the 60’s Adam West Batman series was when his named was change to the more familiar “Mr. Freeze,” which would eventually be utilized in the comics.

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              It was on September 7, 1992 when Mr. Freeze’s character went through an enduring change for the better. In Bruce Timm’s Batman: The Animated Series episode, “Heart of Ice,” written by Paul Dini, Mr. Freeze was given the tragic backstory that most of have come to know and love. When Mr. Freeze made his debut in the animated series, he is depicted as a grieving scientist who is driven by the desire to get revenge on the Gothcorp CEO who is not only responsible for the *supposed* death of his wife Nora (who is later revealed to be stuck in a cryonic stasis), but his condition that leaves him susceptible to above sub-zero conditions. This drastic new change to Mr. Freeze’s origin not only added more depth to this once goofy character, but made him more human and sympathetic. To add to that this ground-breaking episode helped the animated series win an Emmy for “Outstanding Writing in an Animated Program.” Like the Adam West series before it, the changes that BTAS had brought to Mr. Freeze’s character were eventually translated into the comics.

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               Mr. Freeze’s character would later undergo a more controversial change with the launch of the “New 52” line. In Mr. Freeze’s retconned origin, it is revealed that he has had an obsession with cryogenics ever since he first witnessed his mother survive a plunge into the icy depths of a frozen lake with temperatures cold enough to preserve her until help arrived. Although his mother was able to survive this ordeal, she was left with an illness and wheelchair-bound. In hopes of ending her pain Victor pushed her into the same lake that left her in poor health. Victor Fries would eventually grow up and run Wayne Enterprises cryogenics lab, which contains several cryo-preserved individuals. There he meets the love of his life, Nora Fields, a woman born in 1943 who was diagnosed with an incurable heart condition. She was left in cryo stasis when her husband hoped to preserve her life by having her undergo a controversial cryogenic treatment in hopes that she would eventually wake up in a time where she could get treatment advance enough for her needs. When Victor learns of her and how she was the first human to undergo the cryogenic stasis treatment, he begins to develop an obsession with her, giving him the desire to raise her from her stasis. As he tried to do so, none other than Bruce Wayne tried to stop his project as he disapproved of his unregulated experimentation on the woman. Angered by Wayne’s intervention, Victor attempted an attack on him by throwing a chair at him, only to hit a set of cryonic tanks, that sprays chemicals on him, giving him the familiar condition of susceptibility to temperatures above sub-zero. When psychoanalyzed by Batman, it is revealed that Victor never loved Nora, instead he has an unhealthy infatuation with the “idea” of cold, which he sees Nora as the perfect embodiment of.

Mr. Freeze’s origin has, and will be subject to change in order to fit different narratives and changing times. Despite this, it can be seen that Paul Dini had contributed an enduring staple to his origin that has been reused and reinterpreted for each new version of Mr. Freeze, including the more recent live action series, Gotham.

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Also, can’t end a Mr. Freeze post without an Arnold Schwarzenegger reference…

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