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Interactive Annual 19:
Websites/Microsites

Cinemax Byzantium Tests

Launch Movie

“Visually slick and psychologically enticing, the Byzantium Tests employ backend trickery to successfully mess with your mind.”
—Dave Curry

“A high level of intensity is achieved through great storytelling, art direction and the use of complex technologies like emotional recognition through facial recognition.”
—Madison Wharton Marks


Overview: As a prequel marketing experience to promote Cinemax’s original action series Hunted, this site immerses audiences in the unsettling and uncertain world of international espionage. What begins as an innocuous “Are You Normal?” personality quiz ends with a twist that leaves web audiences dumbfounded and amazed. The five social, spreadable and increasingly strange tests drew audiences into the world of Byzantium, a private security firm. Purported to unlock the psychological secrets hidden in visitors’ minds, they instead steadfastly demonstrate that all is not as it seems.

  • • Leading audiences down the rabbit hole to the test site, the larger campaign, developed by Campfire, included subversive out-of-home posters with the provocative slogan “We’re not for everyone. Just the 1% that matters.” placed in four locations on Wall Street to coincide with Occupy Wall Street’s first anniversary.
  • • Social sharing and Facebook Connect were built directly into the story to help viral spread.

Comments by Steve Coulson and Mark McQuillan

What do you think contributed most to the site’s success? “While the site uses faux psychological techniques to create drama and immersion, it’s all based on real cognitive principles. Each test was designed to address one very specific theory and the attention paid to specific academic theory underpins the entertainment, and gives it a lot more depth than the standard game or online video.”

What was the most gratifying part of the project? “Nearly 1.2 million people took the Byzantium Tests over the three months it was live. We garnered significant press coverage across mainstream and pop culture blogs, made the front page of Reddit three times and gained a huge following in the Tumblr community. The emotional reaction across social networks was fantastic (storify.com/SteveCoulson/reactions-to-byzantium-tests). It’s great to create something and see real emotional outpouring and enthusiasm from a fan community.”

Credits

J.C. Hutchins, Campfire, writer
Kuba Bogaczynski, design director
Steve Coulson, Campfire/Pablo Vio, creative directors
Mike Monello, Campfire, executive creative director
Jeremiah Rosen, Campfire/Jason Sutterfield, Campfire, principals
Matt Fisher/David Fono/Sunil John/Heung Lee, developers
Elena Parker, Campfire, video director
Mark McQuillan, technology director
Drastic Music, sound designer
Kaitlyn Tegethoff, Campfire, associate producer
Jen Larkan, Campfire/Renee McCarthy/Shelly Simmons, producers
Rafael Ludwig, visual effects producer
Christopher McLallen, Campfire, senior producer
Campfire/JAM3 (Toronto, Canada), project design and development
Campfire, ad agency
Cinemax, client


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