“THE ABSENCE OF CLOSURE” VIRAL MARKETING CAMPAIGN
When Lionsgate presented us with the incredible opportunity to continue the rich mythology of the 1999 film, The Blair Witch Project, Deluxe Creative was more then up for the task. Blair Witch offered us a unique challenge, playing off the already built in expectations, to create an entirely new storytelling experience for today’s generation.
The Blair Witch “The Absence of Closure” ARG, picks up 20 years after the original left off, luring fans back into those woods and introducing them to a expanded narrative only hinted at in previous incarnations. Fans discover a trail of digital breadcrumbs strategically scattered across social media and crowd funding sites. Using a combination of interactive storytelling and the occasional subtle nudge – our participants were encouraged to explore a fully orchestrated world, where discovery occurs at their own pace.
Our updated fiction centers on a group of documentary filmmakers whose disappearance has triggered a flurry of online activity. A mysterious, fully funded, Kickstarter campaign surfaces, which gives us insight into their lives. There’s a pitch video, photos of the crew’s preparations, and consistent updates leading up to the start of shooting… Then all goes quiet. Not a single communication from the group for the last two years. It seems they’ve gone missing while shooting their film in those same fateful woods. As articles appear from local papers reporting on the incident, the Kickstarter comment section buzzes with theories. Groups from around the Internet take up the search, including the director’s best friend who regularly corresponds on her Facebook page to collect information.
A hactivist group, also having lost their friend, takes up the cause. Their active twitter feed reflects their concerns and otherworldly suspicions. Several 2014 entries from their missing friend’s WordPress blog, reference a witch in Burkittsville. Could all this be connected? These and other elements play out synergistically across the Internet to create a vastly interwoven adventure.
To further increase the level of fan participation, our fictional hackers recruit a real world “truth army” to spread the word in search of answers. Fans who prove their worthiness are rewarded with handmade ARG packages mailed directly to them. These packages contain a hand carved puzzle box, a Blair Witch stick figure, and a USB drive containing unreleased photos and never-before-seen video clips. Soon the contents from these boxes appear everywhere, as fans begin to “spread the truth.”
The Blair Witch “The Absence of Closure” campaign was designed to run deeply across multiple channels, enticing fans to take their own journeys of discovery. We gave fans the most realistic experience possible, teasing them with just enough information to keep them searching. What starts as simple backstory exploration, quickly descends into a full-blown interactive experience, bringing fresh lore into the Blair Witch canon.
LINKS TO CAMPAIGN ELEMENTS
“THE ABSENCE OF CLOSURE” KICKSTARTER CAMPAIGN
An in-fiction Kickstarter campaign was created for our film-within-a-film, “The Absence of Closure.” We specifically backdated a pitch video and written entries from our fictional director, Lisa Arlington. These offer an in-depth timeline of the events leading up to our group’s disappearance, and provide fans with an initial introduction to characters of the Blair Witch film.
DARKNET666 WORDPRESS BLOG
To explore more of the film’s mythology, we expanded the backstory of Lane, a character from Blair Witch. Through his entries, we introduced the Blair Witch lore, while providing clues that drove our online story forward. All entries were backdated to match the timeline of Lane’s disappearance.
“FINDING LISA ARLINGTON” FACEBOOK PAGE
The “Finding Lisa Arlington” page was a central hub of our campaign, steering fans towards the ever-evolving elements of our web-based narrative. Run by Lisa’s devoted best friend, we communicated directly with fans offering to help.
DARKTRUTH301 TWITTER FEED
To present the film’s darker themes, we created a want-to-be hactivist group named DarkTruth301. Through their Twitter feed, we pointed fans to both the real and in-fiction happenings around the Burkittsville area. As the campaign progressed, this Twitter feed was also used to recruit fans into our “truth army.” Collected names and addresses were used to send out handmade ARG boxes to the “worthy.”
YOUTUBE VIDEO POSTED BY DARKTRUTH301
Previously unseen footage from the Blair Witch uncovered by our fictional hackers.
“THE ABSENCE OF CLOSURE” TUMBLR
Established to give our character a broader social presence, we posted photos and videos as Lisa Arlington, detailing the progress of the production.
Fans were encouraged to post and distribute the contents of their ARG boxes to social media. This link is one of many postings, demonstrating how the “truth army” broadened our campaign.
This thread is typical of the conversations that were generated by the campaign.
BLOG COVERAGE OF THE CAMPAIGN
Drumming up talk and discussions about the campaign was nearly as important as the individual components themselves. Eventually fans pieced it all together, as seen in this link.