Thanks to superheroes battling twelve months a year at the box office, on television, and in games, comic-based IPs are fighting more than one another, but fan fatigue, as well.
Facing this steady stream of super-powered competition, Fox Home Entertainment found itself with two objectives:
1) Activate the core for the digital release of X-Men: Days of Future Past
2) Attract the mass and grow the X-Men franchise through broad entry points
Armed Mind set out to create a plausible embedded digital content campaign littered in rabbitholes and reveals that would bring the "mutant problem" into today's digital consciousness.
In just 3 weeks, the campaign produced a genetic-research think tank, embedded mutants, a nationwide sweeps that revealed fans' "gifts," and an underground anti-truth organization that unearthed a 3-decade conspiracy.
The campaign produced:
- 2 fictional organizations on Tumblr
- ~50 pieces of content:
- 1 Video Codex
- 2 local Bolivian TV segments, wholly in Spanish
- 45+ transmedia docs
- 1 "audio leak"
- 391 #WeAreGifted UGC entries and 5 genome sequencing winners
- 2 social video accounts for "Quicksilver" on Vine/Insta
"Mutants Are Among Us" reached tentpole engagement across all metrics to become the most successful digital content viral campaign in Fox Home Entertainment history.
- 140 MM PR Reach
- 12 MM social reach
- 2 MM clicks
- 200K likes
- 300K video views
TOTAL REACH: 150MM+
How do you make superheroes real? You legitimize the search for them.
With a mission of fostering "mutant genome awareness," this began with Armed Mind's launch of Tandem Initiative, a fake genetic-research think tank that announced a bona fide nation-wide sweepstakes calling for mutants in hiding to emerge and show off their superpowers under the #WeAreGifted hashtag.
Leveraging Tumblr's platform for user-generated submissions, fan-made photos streamed in from "gifted" humans showing off their "abilities" while holding up #WeAreGifted printable placards. Just as the press began to wonder who was behind the "Search for the World's Gifted," an anti-truth organization called M-Underground launched their own Tumblr, positing that Tandem Initiative wasn't who they said they were.
In the vein of TruthDig and WikiLeaks, M-Underground's Tumblr began releasing damning evidence of Tandem Initiative's true intentions, hacked from their servers. This included a "Video Codex" of unexplainable natural phenomena, including research interviews with real biologists and UCLA evolutionary geneticists talking about the likelihood of mutants.
When not posting videos or sound embeds, M-Underground's transmedia posts elevated flat graphics like blueprints and telegrams by creating animated GIFs, helping draw visitors' eyes to critical passages in the evidence.
Over the next few weeks, declassified documents on Ted Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, and JFK Jr's shared mutant genome were released on M-Underground's Tumblr, taking the conspiracy in the film even further, and igniting dialogue and debate on mass sites ranging from Hollywood Reporter and Playboy to the boards on Ain't It Cool News and Reddit.
The campaign then went global, as a gifted soccer phenom from Bolivia was discovered to have been a mutant thanks to unaired TV shows shot totally in Spanish that accidentally captured his abilities. After M-Underground leaked a plea from the boy's mother to return him home, the organization found evidence of Tandem's lethal experiments on mutants, releasing it widely and then hacking Tandem's site, defacing it permanently.
Littered in easter eggs, these pieces of content were built with authenticity as the critical requirement. Assets ranged from time-lapse X-Rays and hospital admittance forms to secret White House blueprints, a fake intranet, fraying telegrams, and even video interviews with credentialed biologists and professors of evolutionary genetics -- each one customized with watermarks, metadata and unique distressing to legitimize that mutants might indeed be "among us."
This careful attention to detail extended to each asset's release strategy, as well. By building custom embedded channels on Tumblr for optimal sharing and discoverability, and then tying particular forms of content to M-Underground's profiles elsewhere (Soundcloud, imgur, YouTube, etc.), the campaign allowed fans in each community to dissect, debate and discuss. This ultimately allowed core sites and forums' interest to drive speculation onto mass sites, catalyzing casual coverage from sites like Cinema Blend and /Film, and ultimately attracting new superhero-agnostic fans into the X-Men universe.
Parallel to the viral arc was the social video profile for Quicksilver, launched on Instagram and Vine. The popular teen mutant from the film boasts the ability to move at super speeds, which allowed for six innovative "high-speed" videos, as if shot on the mutant's "mobile phone." Suggesting Quicksilver was truly "among us," the campaign helped bring another mutant into the real world through fun, irreverent videos for the casual, with nods to comic lore for the core.
As the first embedded digital content campaign of its kind for Fox Home Entertainment, the campaign spellbound superhero fans with its depth, immersiveness, and multi-channel approach across Tumblr, YouTube, Soundcloud, and Imgur, catching the attention of mass, core and industry press outlets, amplifying the social efforts of the X-Men brand on social media, and out-performing any historical content comparables.