, Campfire, writerKuba Bogaczynski
, design directorSteve Coulson
, Campfire, creative directorsMike Monello
, Campfire, executive creative directorMatt Fisher
, developersMark McQuillan
, technology directorElena Parker
, Campfire, video directorDrastic Music
, sound designerKaitlyn Tegethoff
, associate producerJen Larkan
, Campfire/Shelly Simmons
, producersChristopher McLallen
, Campfire, senior producerCampfire
, project design and developmentCampfire
, ad agencyCinemax
"Visually slick and psychologically enticing, the Byzantium Tests employ backend trickery to successfully mess with your mind." —juror 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." —juror 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 anniversary.
• The final test required it to appear that commands were subliminally planted in the audience with close to a 100 percent success rate. Coming up with a solution required lateral thinking and old-fashioned trickery as much as finding a technical solution.
• 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 very 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."