If I told you there was an underground movement that began online and had taken root in several major American cities and involved things like secret late-night gatherings, code cracking, and spray-painted symbols, you might feel more than a little uneasy. But fear not! I’m not talking about a gang or an elite 007-esque team of spies. I’m talking about the viral marketing campaign for summer blockbuster, The Amazing Spider-Man, which opens today in theaters.
Viral marketing is becoming more popular, especially for genres like movies and video games. It not only reaches the young, tech-savvy target market, but thanks to social media, gets them involved in a way that classic movie trailers, ads, and billboards never could. While some of the marketing for The Amazing Spider-Man just sort of happened – i.e. the romantic relationship between leads Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone — the complex, intricate, and almost secretive viral campaign has been building steam for several months.
When the theatrical trailer for the film was first released, a covert message was added toward the end. When plugged into a web address, a site called Mark-of-The-Spider-Man popped up, which featured photos of the spray-painted spider logo. No one knew what it meant until February, when the related Twitter account began tweeting the coordinates of locations where Peter Parker had “lost” various items. The locations included New York City, Atlanta, Denver, Glendale, C.O., Phoenix, and Seattle. A nationwide scavenger hunt had begun.
What followed over the next few months included code cracking, secretive “tagging” events, and the discovery of more related websites with even more pieces to the expanding puzzle. The most recent update occurred in May, and allowed code-crackers access to Peter Parker’s school schedule and a plea from Spidey himself for help in catching The Lizard.
You can follow the events and revelations step-by-step here.