While a recently-released trailer created mainstream internet buzz for Yahoo’s new post-apocalyptic animated series, Electric City, an alternate reality game had already been building awareness among the more hardcore fans of the genre.
Agency Pereira & O’Dell and digital production shop B-Reel had been issued a challenge to promote the Tom Hanks collaboration, in which free communication is limited to the underground. The creative team behind the project opted to reach out to the "underground" and created a complex alternate reality game that stoked curiosity among gamers and influential bloggers across the web.
Over the course of nine days, users became an Electric City character, even though they had no idea that this was connected to Electric City the series. Armed with an antique-looking telegraph machine, users began to piece together the story—and the reason for the coming revolution—one tap code message at a time. Clues extended to mobile and Twitter with TapJoint.com generating 1 million page views. "Puzzling online ads were placed on gaming sites and anonymous clues were mailed to several influential bloggers," Gary Theut, director of Pereira & O’Dell’s client services, tells Co.Create of the targeting of savvy fanboys and "hardcore gamers," who worked collectively to unlock a preview of the series’ first episode. "The tenacity and skill of the players was extraordinary. The challenges were extremely difficult. What we thought would take them three weeks to decode only took them eight days."
It all feels rather Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, and it’ll be interesting to see how it plays out in the actual series, coming to Yahoo! Screen on July 17.