'Repo Men' Director Talks Interactive Marketing and Viral Videos
The sci-fi, futuristic nature of the movie, says Sapochnik, lent itself to a mysterious, world-enhancing online marketing campaign. "'Repo Men' has the content, and the interest, that would react well to a more in-depth campaign like this," he told the audience. Along with ad spots for "The Union" (the all-seeing entity in the 'Repo Men' realm), the campaign also includes a Wired-inspired contest and a Dennis Calero-illustrated motion comic. Debuting at SXSW, the comic starred Jude Law and focused on the Repo Men world, showing Law's character in a therapy session where he discusses his gory, blood-soaked work. "That's why I like the liver," Law says. "Easy in, easy out." The Web comic premiered in 3-D today and looked stylish, its emphasis more on illustration than on movement; the comic's next issue will be out in a week and a half. An ad shows a man lamenting the needlessness of death; if only a husband had invested in The Union, he wouldn't have put his family through the pain of loss. They are beautifully shot, depicting a stark, clinical world, and bear no obvious signs of a movie campaign.
Back when Wired's Evan Ratliff tried to disappear, Universal Studios asked the magazine to help in planning its own contest. That competition asks four individuals to disappear and complete "tasks" -- while hunters attempt to track them down for a $7,500 prize per person. Clues have appeared in trailer clips and online marketing content. Sapochnik expounds, "The film extends itself thematically to the narrative of chasing and repossessing." So far, two people have been "repo'd," while two more are still at large.
The Web comics, the viral spots, and the contest work together to make the movie's world a richer experience, says Sapochnik. The Web spots were created pre-production, and thus raise questions and characterize the universe without giving away the plot. All that aside, Sapochnik says he had such a positive experience because he was given the freedom to create. With viral ads becoming more and more popular, he knows that, despite their organic posturing, they are still trying to sell something. "I'd like to think they'd lead to more creativity, but the realist in me says otherwise. We did such a good job because there were very few middlemen involved, so we got to really do what we wanted." Adding art to advertising is a tricky, treacherous task, running the risk of monetizing creativity. The bottom line: Let the Mad Men market how they want, but one can never pay for an "organic" or truly viral experience.