Morgellons Disease....Viral marketing for A Scanner Darkly movie?
In a recent Slashdot story concerning Morgellons Disease it has been suggested that the recent buzz about Morgellons Disease has all been part of a viral marketing ploy for the upcoming movie A Scanner Darkly which is based on the Phillip K. Dick book by the same name.
The Wikipedia entry linked above cites the evidence for this as follows:
- The website claims that a "national news broadcast" will occur in June or July. The release date for the film is July 7.
- Morgellons.org and Morgellonusa.com (currently down) are both registered by a proxy company and contain no contact info.
- The first Morgellon's article on Wikipedia was created in February as a link to one of the above websites.
Even though initial research did not uncover which ad agency or PR firm is working with Warner Bros. on this, I'd have to say when you connect the dots this makes a lot of sense. Something similar was done before King Kong was released which amounted to a lot of popular internet news sites carrying stories about giant apes right before the movie was released. There didn't seem to be much evidence of this but it was fairly obvious to most readers of these sites that it was one big viral campaign, since while the stories were real, having that many published in such a short amount of time during that particular time is just too many coincidences.
I wouldn't be surprised if their plan for building awareness of this Morgellons Disease goes as follows:
- Step 1: Find some obscure idea that has a relation to the movie and has been researched by and baffled scientists in the past.
- Step 2: Create websites for this idea using anonymous registrars.
- Step 3: Generate buzz by seeding press releases of the story on popular internet news sites.
- Step 4: Get story picked up by TV stations as a result of PR contacts and network interest from the internet popularity.
- Step 5: Release movie July 7th of this year.
- Step 6: ?????
- Step 7: PROFIT!!!
If this does indeed turn out to be a viral campaign for the release of the movie, then more power to them because I have to say it was one of the stealthier campaigns done. Of course part of the fun behind viral marketing is what I am coining "The Discovery Phase".
The Discovery Phase is the part of the viral campaign where the viral hook used has built up so much steam that people are actively trying to learn all they can about it. This leads to a discovery of the true nature of the viral campaign. While there is a potential for negative response to this, as long as it is done in a good natured, ethical way then the response tends to be positive, and can generate a surge of interest in what the viral campaign is promoting.
This is largely due to increased web traffic to the website of what is being promoted. While the internet is not the only placed people will seek information (many will ask their peers), it is the most likely and provides the best opportunities for capitalizing on the response of the surge generated by the viral campaign.
Since being written up on Ad Rants both the Ad Rants site and mine have received several comments from people claiming to suffer from this disease. While I am slightly skeptical about the people posting those comments due to some red flags that were raised...I am sorry if I had offended anybody all the same. I have written a response to those who commented claiming to have the disease, and since many of you are jumping directly to this story from another site, you can find the direct link to my response here.