GETTING A CALL FROM ‘THE RING’
DVD Promotion Lets Friends Send Scary Prank Calls
In the horror film “The Ring,” when a videotape of a mystical and sinister short film winds up in the hands of some hapless viewer, a spell is cast that ensures his or her grisly demise in just seven days after ejecting the tape. Watch the film and you are destined to die.
The media idea behind this campaign was to take the film’s story line literally in order to promote the DVD of the scary flick to consumers. It is one of the first examples of a Web promotion and mobile campaign working seamlessly.
Visitors to www.7daysleft.com could enter the mobile numbers and e-mail addresses of friends in order to play a rather evil practical joke. The “friend” then receives an e-mail inviting him or her to view the film trailer.
So far, so ordinary. However, after seeing the link the consumer receives the fateful call — just like the scenes from the movie. The unfortunate victim of the prank hears the whispering voice predicting imminent death.
After a moment’s terror the windup is revealed and the victim is asked to supply more names to carry the idea on to more unsuspecting members of this “media ring.”
This is a genuinely scary viral campaign and one that has engaged thousands of consumers. Like the film, it is destined for a global release. In Australia alone, more than 10,000 people have been spooked, courtesy of New Media Maze.
With many mobile phone users carrying their handset with them everywhere they go, the attraction of having a built-in camera for spontaneous picture taking is obvious.
A recent A. T. Kearney/University of Cambridge – Judge Institute of Management report found that camera phones are used by 15% of mobile phone users in North America, up from 5% in 2004.
Moreover, cameras are the most desired advanced feature among US consumers, above phones that allow music downloading and smart phones (those with PDA capabilities). According to Parks Associates, over 50% of US Internet users who intend to buy a phone in the next year expressed interest purchasing a camera phone.
But new camera phone users find that the devices are not quite what they expected. Notes David Chamberlain, analyst for market research company In-Stat, “People who haven’t yet purchased camera phones are very enthusiastic about all the uses for their images. However, once they start using their new phones, they are turned off by perceived poor picture quality, slow network speeds, and the difficulty of creating and sending pictures.”
As a Sprint survey indicates, camera phone users are more likely to use the pictures they take with their phone as a background image or for caller ID than to send them to other’s phones. In-Stat found the latter percentage to be even lower — just 28% of respondents said they share pictures with friends through a messaging service, far less than the 60% who had hoped to do this before getting their camera phone. Only 5% print camera phone pictures or stores them on operator-sponsored Web sites. It seems likely that these patterns will remain until pictures become sharper and transferring them out of phones becomes easier.