Whoever is running this campaign is amazing. Simply amazing. All the stops have been pulled out for one single movie which is still almost nine months away from arriving in theaters.
I've blogged before about some of the things already done to promote TRON: Legacy, but in this post I really went into depth on the subject. I apologize in advance for those of you who will be bored by this post, and I will hopefully have something else up in the next few days.
At the 2008 Comic Con in San Diego, CA, a clip was shown of a possible upcoming sequel to the popular movie TRON. This clip, showing basically an updated lightcycle scene from the original film, was used to judge the popularity of that sequel, then called TR2N. The reaction was apparently enough to gain funding for this project, which went into high gear for an ASAP release. Little news on the project came out until a year later when, in that same theater, that same clip was shown and released on YouTube, but now called TRON: Legacy. Meanwhile, a shopfront near the Convention had been rented out and turned into a replica of Flynn's, the arcade owned by the main character Kevin Flynn. An organization known as Flynn Lives became public and helped people from the convention unscramble clues and find the arcade. Besides being able to play real games from the movie (Space Paranoids and TRON come to mind), a replica of the new lightcycle was displayed in a backroom. Those that were lucky enough to go went home and posted all over the Internet about the fun times they had.
Things died down after that point, and it seemed like the arcade would be an isolated incident until the beginning of this year. New posts were suddenly put on the Flynn Lives website in late February asking for help. This help was in the form of Zero Hour. For this, contacts were sent to major cities across the world to meet up with the members of the Flynn Lives base that got the message. The contacts gave out a cell phone to the first person to show up, and the Flynn Lives headquarters then called them, directing them to a package where they would find three cards with codes, among other souvenirs. Once all the codes were entered in a special area of the Flynn Lives website (see above), a link to Pitcell.com was opened. This site listed times and places of a special meet up of fans, but only to those who got tickets. The Event turned out to be a screening of the new TRON: Legacy 3D trailer about to be released before Alice in Wonderland. Some events were limited to the trailer, while others got a Q&A session and free t-shirts or posters.
However, this time things sped up instead of slowing down. A new "glitch" supposedly created by Kevin Flynn himself allowed members to find their way to an online version of the non-3D version of the trailer, as well as an escape route directly to it. The Flynn Lives site also opened up "discussion boards", an area where fabricated members could post regarding Kevin Flynn. Several links can be found there, including a video showing the making of several "bits" that select members received in the mail. (For those of you not familiar with the original movie, these would not make sense or be of interest to you.)
One of the links led to a challenge game for those familiar with the local arcade that showed symbolic pictures of video games old and new. The picture would represent the game in some way (such as a guitar with a cape for Guitar Hero). Those who could name all fifty-five games, with or without help from online sources, were treated to their prize, the opportunity to create their own ENCOM ID badge (ENCOM is a made-up company in TRON that makes video games and is on the leading edge of technology today). The badges were explained as being for future infiltration, and as long as you gave up your address and a picture of yourself, you would be mailed a badge for free. I received one, and I have pictures at the end of the post.
Once you received you badge, you were given an employee number which could be used to log on to the ENCOM intranet, where you would find more fabricated articles and several emails from company employees, reminding you to turn in paperwork, or informing you of who received Employee of the Month, etc. There was also information regarding a Press Conference to be held ion San Francisco on April 2nd, 2010. This was also mentioned in an interview IGN did with Alan Bradley, head of ENCOM. He will be the speaker at the April 2 Press Conference, and few seem top know what exactly will be announced there. I'm assuming the badges will be required to get in to the Conference, but I don't know for sure.
Like I mentioned before, I got my own ENCOM employee badge recently. They came in a rather nondescript padded envelope, with a return address of Flynn Lives, followed by a P.O. Box number in San Diego. (My personal information had been edited out of the pictures below)
Opening the Package, out tumbled my badge. It was very professional looking, on a company lanyard and everything.
The front of the badge featured the picture you submitted, your name, and your employee ID number, which was used to gain access to the Intranet. The Security features were a nice touch as well, making it seem authentic.
The back featured a warning telling people to stop the person wearing this badge if the picture on the front and the person wearing it did not match. It also had a line of writing near the bottom that read "ENCOM is serious about security." I thought it was a nice touch.
Sorry about the poor picture quality, but that gives you an idea of how the badges look if you didn't receive one yourself.
I keep thinking about the cost of this marketing scheme, apparently still in early stages, and the cost is mind-blowing. I can't think of anything that Disney has done on this large of a scale for a movie or attraction or anything. If it costs one dollar to ship each of those badges in the US, and even more abroad, the cost is staggering. I thank Disney for the opportunity to participate in this enthralling campaign and I await further developments with bated breath.
Oh, and if you want to see the new trailer released with Alice in Wonderland, check out this link.