Around 10 years ago, the movie industry cottoned on to a handy commercial use for this massive, messy but powerful thing they called The Internets: viral marketing.
They realised that by harnessing the power of Google, the Blogosphere and, er, the Forumverse, anyone could successfully market a movie by spending next to nothing.
Fake websites, videos, pictures, teasy snippets of information let loose in webspace created instant chatter and pre-release buzz.
Join us then, as we look at the evolution of viral campaigns over the last decade - the successes, the failures and the 'What were they thinking!?'s We'll also flash a glimpse at campaigns set to ignite a geek near you sometime soon...
1. Fact Or Fiction?
The Blair Witch Project (1999)
Back in 1999, Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez built on a successful Sundance debut by launching BlairWitch.com, perpetuating the idea that the events depicted in the film were real.
Viral Pieces: Archive photos, police reports, interviews and a detailed backstory added to the illusion that the movie was cut from recently discovered footage. See it here.
Infectious? Definitely. Blair Witch showed studios and filmmakers that the web could be a powerful ally. Nothing has come close to it in terms of blurring the lines between reality and fiction, and films like 2012 and District 9 are still flogging the expanded-mythology horse today.
2. The Viral Video Begins
Fight Club (1999)
Director David Fincher filmed two 'Public Service Announcements' to get people talking about Fight Club. They never made it into cinemas, so he put them online instead.
Viral Pieces: Video, Promotional Website. See it here.
Infectious? Debatable. Hardly anyone saw the PSAs at the time, while the Fight Club site looked sort of cool but was a bit of a mess. FIncher's failure made it clear that viral video strategy would need to be more direct (and to be fair, he was trying it before the age of YouTube).