UPDATE 09/12/2010: Welcome to ARGNet, True Blood fans! The BloodCopy.com website appears to be experiencing server issues due to the finale. If you’re interested in learning more about the viral marketing behind the show, check out our previous coverage, or read about the mysterious package that launched the campaign back in May 2008.
Last year, HBO and Campfire Media created an integrated media campaign to introduce the public to Charlaine Harris’ Southern Vampire series that included targeted mailings, vials of fake blood, and a fake protest in NYC by the American Vampire League, an organization working to secure equal rights for vampires. HBO summarized the content with a weekly faux-documentary, The Blood Copy Report.
With the season 2 premiere of True Blood scheduled to air June 14th on HBO, vestiges of last year’s viral campaign are beginning to surface. Andrew Kasday, one of the characters behind the website BloodCopy.com, was turned into a vampire, and has “revamped” the site into an expose on human-vampire relations. Andrew has recently hinted that he has a secret reason behind bringing Blood Copy back from the dead.
Building off the success of last year’s Blood Copy Report, many of Andrew’s stories have been picked up by HBO’s vampire news program, The Perspective with Victoria Davis, which is scheduled to run weekly segments until August 18th. While the experience has been relatively passive so far, the decision to air Victoria Davis’ faux-news segment concurrently with True Blood’s air time leaves the possibility for more open.
Image courtesy of Jonathan, via Geekologie.com
It’s been a while since I took a look at American Vampire League. But after learning that the alternate reality game was a promotion for HBO’s new series True Blood (premiering September 7th at 9pm), I stopped following the campaign for a while.
Sure, I read about io9 receiving a vial of Tru Blood before they grew to dislike ARGs. And I enjoyed reading Scott Sigler’s impressions of the campaign on the AMC blog. But sadly, I lost track of the campaign somewhere along the way. I missed reading about vampires going public, and didn’t realize that the American Vampire League passed out promotional materials in mid-town Manhattan.
Luckily, Campfire Media, the team behind the True Blood alternate reality game, created a series of videos to catch players up on the campaign. And while I was working on my last article, I overheard my father watching the Blood Copy Report on HBO. The series of weekly videos summarized the game’s progress and caught me up on recent developments in less than an hour.
Increasingly, ARG developers are releasing simplified summaries of their games to get the word out and attract a broader audience. Campfire Media has created videos summarizing past campaigns as case studies, such as the 4400′s Battle over Promicin and Audi’s Art of the Heist. Millions of Us released a series of videos on BoingBoing TV summarizing Enitech Labs, the campaign for the Sarah Connor Chronicles. Brian Clark has gone on the record saying that the planned revenue model for Eldritch Errors includes releasing graphic novels and a television show based on the experience.
Over the past few days, a wide variety of people have been finding mysterious envelopes in the mail. Identified only by a customized stamp with a red seal labeled “tb”, the envelope contains one of four different letters, each encoded in a different ancient language. In addition, each letter includes a rather striking red seal with an ink blot encircled by superimposed characters.
J.C. Hutchins, a prominent podcaster, novelist and author of the 7th Son trilogy, notified ARGNet and UnFiction of his discovery, linking to a detailed post about the package including pictures of the contents on Flickr and a video describing the unwrapping process that’s definitely worth viewing. Jeffrey R. DeRego, a frequent contributor to Escape Pod and author of the Union Dues series, also reported receiving an envelope.
Sightings of the envelope have not been restricted to prominent podcasters, however. Baierman at the pop culture blog YesButNoButYes reported receiving the strange mail, and later discovered an oddly similar banner on Gizmodo that led to chishio.jp, which includes all four messages. Vic Holtreman at Screen Rant received an envelope as did Rod Washington at Cactus Pix, an independent digital production company. More recipients are likely to surface as long as they can figure out what to make of their envelopes–so if you read blogs dealing with podcasting, movies, or science fiction, stay on the lookout for mentions of mysterious packages bearing red seals. Who knows…you might even have one waiting for you in your mailbox.
Currently, there is a lot of speculation regarding what this project is about, but not much is known (although it’s worth noting that both J.C. Hutchins and Rod Washington have denied any involvement in the project). However, the graphic stylings of the letters and website are quite striking, so this trail is worth checking out despite the scarcity of information at the moment.
Click Here for the thread at UnFiction.
USA Network has partnered with Campfire Media to produce an extended reality promotion for the hit television show, The 4400. Fans of the show can join in the debate over the use of Promicin, a neurotransmitter found in each of the 4400. When injected into someone who is not one of the 4400, it does one of two things: it either kills them instantly or gives them an amazing supernatural ability. Not surprisingly, the government wants to stop the use of Promicin, but many, like Jordan Collier, think the public deserves the right to choose for themselves.
While the promotion appears to be an extended reality rather than a full-fledged ARG, it’s still definitely worth a look. According to the official press release, the campaign will use seven websites, 70+ videos, mobile phone network participation and several live events across the United States. The three sites found through the rabbithole are already chock-full of well done and entertaining videos, blogs and other fun goodies.
Join the discussion at the UnFiction forums.