Promotion Packages: Going to the extreme:’The Dark Knight’…

Posted: March 9, 2011 in Media

Well, since the brief I chose was to create pretty much a promotion package for a new film (though specifically looking at a trailer, magazine front cover and poster) I thought I’d look at how films are promoted, and what appears to be the most affective this area (i.e. how do these ‘packages get audiences keen to see the film they’re promoting and how are they successful?)

One promotion package I found to be very intriguing was that for Christopher Nolan’s 2008 film ‘The Dark Knight’ which I think really pulled out all the stops promotion-wise and went further than just the ordinary ‘poster-magazine coverage-trailer’ thing. Which is probably why the film was so hyped up at the time of its release and reaped in the cash at the box office. Below is only a few of the amazing promotional things I found out about the film…

Websites: I believe in Harvey Dent…Too

It appeared to all start at a website named ‘I believe in Harvey Dent’ where the character of Harvey dent was made out to look like a real person, who was promoting an election coming up for which he was one of the candidates. Then another website was set up called ‘I believe in Harvey Dent too’ a rival one, supposedly meant to be created by villain the Joker. Then the creator of this new website promised to show the first ever picture of the character of the Joker, removing each pixel over the picture with each email a fan sent in. Soon enough, the picture was revealed and having the first picture of the villain they’d encounter soon, that set them up for what even further promotion for the film was to come…

Websites: The Gotham & Ha Ha Ha Times…

A website was even made that featured the supposed newspaper from Batman’s fictional hometown, Gotham city (the ‘Gotham Times’) where fans could read ‘news’ (including characters from the first film as well as new ones) and therefore get hints as to what the film itself would be about before it had even been released. Here there was also a link to an another paper, named the ‘HaHaHa Times’, which is where villain the Joker had scrawled over the original newspaper to give an alternative outlook on the events within it.

Websites and bowling balls: The clown travel agency…

And then there’s this website called ‘’ where the website gave chances to fans all over the world, in different major cities, to get their hands on the Joker’s ‘bag’. They sent out a message saying:

 ‘Ready to have a ball? A special bag of fun awaits the first to claim it, but you’d better strike fast, there’s no time to spare!”

And then listed all of the places this applied to. Each place having a specific codeword/name they had to say to get what they wanted. Upon getting there first and saying the codeword, the fans would get the Joker’s ‘bag’. Where in a bowling ball was placed (with a number on it), a joker card, a phone, a charger for the phone (not mention that some of these items sealed in an authentic ‘evidence’ bag) and a note saying:

‘Nice work clown! Now call the number on the ball immediately!’

When they called, the answer was simply this:

‘Thanks for calling. We know who you are now. Bye bye.’

Phone messages…

After all the bowling balls had been collected, the ‘Joker’ sent a link to all fans saying that now he needed them to sort out a little security problem for him, leading them to a website named  ‘Acmesecurity’. There, users were asked to log in, giving the website their name, phone number and  email address, postcode and also, the password the Joker had provided (NEEDLE). I’m guessing many were surprised when this happened to them…


and then, it gets even more real, as users end up with their telephone actually ringing due to this and the conversation/autoamtic message going as follows:

Woman: Hello, this is the Acme Secu­rity Sys­tems voice print iden­ti­fi­ca­tion sys­tem, please say the pass­word clearly.

Caller: NEEDLE (saying anything else won’t let you hear the next piece of message…apparently.)

Gor­don: This is Jim Gor­don, major crimes, Gotham Police Depart­ment. Not the voice you were expect­ing… huh? We have your name. We have your num­ber. We have your computer’s IP address. So what I’m say­ing is, we have you. Con­sider your­self the Gotham Police Department’s newest recruit. You see, this works one of two ways, either you’re going to jail for con­spir­acy in a crim­i­nal enter­prise, or, you’ll work for me. We’ll be in touch. Oh, have a great day!

The cakes…

And don’t even get me started on the whole cake thing….where on the website  a hammer game and some teddy bear toys were revealed, and each toy had an address on it located in a number of cities around the US. The note on the game instructed people to go to that address and say their name was “Robin Banks” and they’d then get something . It was first come, first serve, and each location was a bakery. What they were given was a cake with a phone number written on it. Now here’s the best part: inside the cake was an evidence bag (complete with Gotham City Police printing) that contained a mobile phone, a charger, a Joker playing card and a note with instructions

The note read the following:

Wow. You really took the cake! Now put the icing on it. Call [the number] immediately from this phone and this phone only. Do not give this phone number to anyone else.’

Let’s hope your fellow goons come through as well as you. Once all the layers are in place, you’ll all get your just desserts. I’m a man of my word.’

When the person called the number, a woman answered from Rent-a-Clown to thank the caller. Apparently she said she knew who the caller was and then after hanging up, they received a text message. It read:

‘Good work, clown! Keep this phone charged and with you at all times. Don’t call me. I will call you … eventually.’

Additionally, once all the cakes were handed out, a new page was linked where users can sign-up to receive a free screening pass on Thursday night at 7PM to see I Am Legend in IMAX which will include the first 7-minutes of The Dark Knight that was filmed specifically for IMAX. Another link also revealed the first teaser poster.

Actually, all of this amazing viral advertising campaign for the film is nicely summarised by the video below, and how people really got involved is a little worrying to be honest (the fact people will do whatever they’re told to?)…

So, all in all ‘The Dark Knight’ was a huge success in its promotional campaign, which is all too clearly evident in its popularity. Instead of being separated from the public, the promotion package literally got into their homes- through phone messages and games such as the cake and the bowling ball fiascos. So it all seemed more ‘real’ to audiences and as most companies and films really wouldn’t, as far as I’m concerned, go to so much trouble to do all of this just to promote their film, it really hyped audiences up and got them excited to see the film itself. Although I think this truly is a spectacular way to get a film ‘out there’ and almost guarantee it will be watched, I don’t think this applies MUCH to me specifically. I don’t have the money, materials or equipment as to do what this campaign did, also, my film is not really a film, it’s just a trailer at the edn of the day. As well as this, the Batman is already a very popular movie franchise (the film itself being a sequel), whereas mine wouldn’t be and therefore fans wouldn’t catch onto a campaign such as this for a film or franchise they had never heard of before so eagerly nor so quickly. But I do know now the extent at which advertising and promoting films can go and I think it’s safe to say that a lot of money goes in it for a reason- advertise a film right, and you’re more likely to get audience’s interested and therefore your money back (and in ‘The Dark Knight’s case, their money back then some! Like…$1,001,921,825 can be regarded as ‘some’ I think). All in all if I had actually created a film and I was going to advertise it, yes, this would be the route I’d go down. But for now, I think I’ll just stick to making a film poster and magazine cover. (Those of which for ‘the Dark Knight’ I will analyse soon…I just thought I’d focus on the extremes first and get them out of the way…)

  1. DARK_KNIGHT says:

    Excellent sequel much darker, more violent than the first.

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