Posted to Ben Finklea's blog on January 12th, 2009

Google Search: 2012

122-doomsday2012_0.jpgThere are prophecies written in almost every ancient culture of an epic change for humanity coming in 2012, from the Mayan and the Bible to the I Ching and the real Merlin. There are alarmist theories of Earth’s polarity shifting, cataclysmic natural disasters destroying coastlines and the map of Earth changing yet again. There are also more positive outlooks for this change in 2012. There are theories of humanity’s “third eye” opening and we will be more in tune with our planet, ourselves, and our minds, causing a perspective shift in how we function as a species. Whichever way you like to tickle your 2012 theoretical fancy, there may be a new wave of information coming to your computer screen soon.

Columbia Pictures is releasing the new Roland Emmerich disaster epic, “2012” this summer, and is using a unique marketing approach in its upcoming campaign. Instead of opting into the popular and trendy $2.7 billion Super Bowl ad, the sony-owned studio is hyping the film in an online campaign, run with the help of Google’s search engine.

The trailer has already become a hit on YouTube, becoming the No. 1 video on the Google-owned site with nearly 1.3 million views and 5,521 comment in the past month. The end of the trailer directs you to “Google Search: 2012”. When you type in 2012 into Google’s search engine, hundreds of thousands of links appear, but the top results benefit Wikipedia and IMDB. What doesn’t immediately appear at the top of the results page is the promotional site for the movie, until you scroll about halfway down the first page. This was an intentional move to encourage the would-be movie goers to click away with their curiosity and do their own research. It is a very slick viral plan to seed the internet with a buzz, or madness, about the prophecies of 2012 and hopefully get more people in the movie theater this summer.

Even the most traditional forms of entertainment, in this case movies, are making moves to new forms of media and strategic communications. No Super Bowl ad? No problem. Online videos became a viral force in 2008, and they will be even more useful in the years to come. Online videos could be more effective than current Super Bowl ads, but we won’t know the real answer for this case study until 2012 comes out on July 10th. Until then, I suggest browsing those 2012 theories on Google, you may not believe them, but if the movie is as entertaining as the theories, we are in for a polarizing ride.

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