Are we about to witness one of the most elaborate and bizarre viral marketing campaigns?
Over the past few weeks certain corners of the internet have been ablaze with speculation, conspiracy and murmur. This is no new occurrence as, along with petit in-fighting, this is what internet forums are for. What makes this case more interesting is that it concerns a topic that has been three years in the making and has really captured the imagination with its exciting and vaguely sinister air.
Three years ago a YouTube page was set up called The Pronunciation Book. The premise was simple; an American voice reads out a different word every day to help those learning English. The word appears on a beige background and lasts about 10 seconds. The page continued in this vein from then on, occasionally deviating from the premise to give oddly phrased example of an English conversation e.g. “How to state an unpleasant fact.”
Over the years the channel has produced over 700 videos, gained 27,000 subscribers, and even inspired a parody account.
However on 9th July the Pronunciation Book stopped its output and began delivering cryptic and ominous messages, beginning with the phrase “Something is going to happen in 77 days”.
These messages include:
“Something is going to happen in 77 days.”
“I’m awake now. Things are clearing up. I’m not saying the words anymore.”
“You can see it in the markets. Everyone’s ready for a storm.”
Understandably, this has rather captured the imagination of the online community!
Whilst conspiracy theories about apocalyptic omens and political intrigue are doing the rounds (as they always seem to do online) the most prominent explanation for the Pronunciation Book’s creepy development is that the channel is actually a very clever marketing campaign for Battlestar Galactica, a science fiction TV show that ended in 2009.
If this is the case it is an advertising campaign three years in the making, and a potentially ground breaking instance of online viral marketing. The campaign will have cost practically nothing to create; the YouTube subscription is free and the overheads on the incredibly simple videos must be non-existent.
Despite this however it has caused massive excitement online which, if the story goes mainstream, will surely peak towards the end of the countdown. Interestingly the bloggers and online commentators spreading the word of the advert had no idea what, if anything, they were promoting with their forum discussions. By having a deep understanding of the internet’s love of mystery and conspiracy the people behind the campaign really do seem to have waved a magic wand and let the public do their promotion for them.
This is not the first time viral marketing has used the internet to great effect, in 2008 the film Cloverfield released mysterious, unidentified trailers that sparked a frenzy of anticipation. However campaigns before this one have at least dealt in the realms of their medium. By creating such an abstract and mind bending series of adverts (with a three year preamble!) A science fiction producer, or video game manufacturer or even a clothes brand for all we know, may have created a unique and one off marketing campaign.
Of course the whole may just be a hoax. Which makes it even more exciting!