Friday, May 25, 2007

The 4400: Viral Assault

Season 4 of The 4400 (the series) hits USA (the channel) on June 17th (the date). To rev up, they appear to have put quite a bit of work into a viral marketing campaign, including several themed websites, videos (hosted on YouTube, naturally), etc.

What's a real shame is that the first I heard about any of this is when Googling around this afternoon trying to find a premiere date for the new season. With all the work that went into it, why is the only thing I saw on it a Sci-Fi Wire news blurb from May 23rd? Now admittedly, per that story they just launched things on 5/21, but still - have we already become so jaded to viral marketing like this that no one cared enough to notice? Or are they going to ramp it up and get the word out a bit louder in the next week or two as the actual premiere gets closer? I would think some actual TV spots for the ads would be pretty cool -- though it might be a hair too realistic & freak people out, possible backlash, yada yada yada. Still, wouldn't it be fun if they ran something like this. That one won't embed - here's a shorter hack version from the ad company on YouTube:

I'm really pretty impressed with the amount of stuff out there. These aren't simple, quick one-page sites, they've actually put some effort into them. Here's what I've dug up so far:

Each site seems to have plenty of videos (the article mentions at least 80). I like the commercial-type spots a bit better than the "dispatches".

One thing they seem to be doing differently from some other viral marketing, is that they're actually ENCOURAGING roleplaying - non-paid, non-affiliated people joining up, typing stuff in character about their own stories, their own abilities or exposure, etc, etc. Though it's a pretty early 4th wall break for the site, the PromicinTerror has this "Contribute to the Cause" link which explains it a bit more:
Play a character and become a part of The 4400 universe -- tell us the part of the promicin story that only you can create! Take a look at some of the videos, articles and photo-illustrated stories on Promicin Info, Promicin Terror and Promicin Power. Then decide what new promicin story you'd like to tell and how you'd like to tell it. See suggestions below for creating a great submission.

They've even got forums setup on PromicinInfo where there's all kinds of folks posting in character, about promicin/4400y things, and some of THOSE people even link back to their own in-character personal blogs... of course, some of them link to unrelated sites, and some link to in-character blogs that BREAK character... I was able to register for an account on the forum & post a reply to one of the threads (I made it neutral enough that it wouldn't break kayfabe)... very cool touch, but as the word gets out, I'm assuming it's going to take some AGGRESSIVE moderating to keep griefers out. Because lord knows the Intarwubs luvs them some griefers.

So if you're exited for the new season of the 4400 to start, or if you're just a fan of viral marketing and fan-involvement, check it out!

EDIT: Unfortunately, their "embed video" links for the non-YouTube flash vids don't seem to work so well (with Blogger at least), so I had to cut out a couple. Be sure to check out the "Protect our Children" video on the first page of - it's quality.