Residents around the city of London have reported seeing humanoid robots roaming the streets. Does this mean that the android uprising is finally among us? Thankfully, not yet. This is all just some clever marketing stunt put together to help bring awareness to an upcoming TV series. Companies are always looking for ways to gain public attention, and nothing works better than word of mouth.
To promote its new sci-fi drama series Humans, the UK’s Channel 4 released an elaborate campaign that spanned multiple platforms. On September 23, 2016, Channel 4 ran a print-size newspaper ad across the UK about a fictional company, Persona Synthetics, informing droid “users” that some customers were experiencing malfunctioning Synths and advising them to visit the Persona Synthetics website for more information. Upon landing on the website, visitors found a video elaborating more on a safety recall. The station even created an eBay store featuring fake reviews about people experiencing problems with their Synths, including this one: “My man Walter is normally dope at making cheese toasties. I asked him to pop out and get a block of cheddar but then he wasn’t back for 2 days. Not cool Walter, not cool.” The negative reviews seem to imply the Synths are beginning to gain a consciousness of their own. To add a level of engagement, the fake company offers the chance to speak to a technical support Synth; this redirects to a Facebook chatbot, which hosts a Q & A. However, after a few questions, the bot itself begins to malfunction. Synth collection vans also made appearances on the streets, creating a deeper sense of immersion by fusing online and offline marketing.
The Westworld marketing team took a similar approach to promote its series by allowing newcomers to book their own Westworld experience. The fake marketing site mentioned a possible parent company, called “Delos,” which appeared as an Easter egg, increasing the realism of the site for big fans of the series. Westworld also reached out to potential audiences by sending out an army of 20 “humanoids” to roam around London. The marketing team focused on multiple touchpoints in its campaign, allowing people to engage in the story to spark their desire to learn more.
By turning their campaigns into immersive journeys, both companies were able to guide users toward desired platforms and turn simple marketing stunts into engaging experiences. While the android uprising has yet to become a real thing, the insane advancements in technology, paired with these cleverly designed stunts, makes these events almost believable.