“A creative and non-traditional approach to advertising. What is real versus what is fiction is sometimes hard to figure out, but it’s certainly fun to go along for the ride. The concept follows through to the very end.” —juror Allegra Burnette
“WOW!” —juror Dan Mavromatis
Overview: Through various sites, viral video, blogs, voicemails and press coverage, a conspiracy theory concept was born. Created by Sega, a whistle-blower, named Beta-7, attempted to convince viewers that this game affected people to the point of blacking out and actually injuring others. Rumor becomes reality in this underground campaign experience for a NFL football game.
• Over 2 million people participated through the site and viral components
• The event lasted 4 months
• 16 people
Comments by Mike Monello/Bobby Hershfield:
“The process for creating Beta-7 was much more like theater or film production than Web development.
“The key element in a campaign like this is really user feedback. Once you launch the story and invite the audience in, it becomes theirs as much as it is yours. As writers and directors, we were in constant contact with our audience, feeling out what was and wasn’t working and tweaking the storyline based on that interaction. We had to be willing to change quickly throughout the process.
“It’s so great when the audience reacts in a way that’s not anticipated and that reaction is what ultimately changes the direction of the project. One fan posted a suggestion that Beta-7 present subliminal images during game play. We certainly hadn’t planned on it, but when discussion broke out on the boards about the possibility of subliminals being present in the game, we quickly arranged for Beta-7 to find something unusual and post it to his blog.
“We made sure the subliminal that Beta-7 ‘found’ was questionable enough to make it impossible to definitively take one side or the other. It allowed for more interesting dialogue and discussion among fans who examined every pixel of every frame grab and video clip and argued over them. Ultimately, much of what transpired over the course of the campaign really came from the audience rather than our original storyline.
“This was definitely one of those once-in-a-lifetime advertising experiences. They don’t happen often but when they do, you realize you’re a part of something special. The most fascinating aspect of the campaign has been the continued interest in it; people are still posting to outside sites about Beta-7. His saga lives on!”