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Revisiting Cloverfield’s bizarre, groundbreaking viral marketing campaign

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Man I was such a BITCH for this marketing campaign. Every day I came home from school I would check the 1-18-08 website to see if a new photo was posted. I remember when we thought some concert art got leaked and the monster looked like a giant whale. Man, those were the days.

145 points · 6 months ago

Ooh fuck I completely forgot about the Giant Whale concept art!

49 points · 6 months ago · edited 6 months ago

I'll never forget the conflicts sinking-yet-ecstatic feeling that overwhelmed me when I thought that I'd accidentally spoiled the identity of the movie's creature... which looked fucking incredible. The urgent symbolic power of that design was far beyond what we got in the film. I was lukewarm on Cloverfield (probably because I was hyped beyond reason), but the marketing campaign (and fan-made art like whalezilla) was wildly entertaining.

I always thought this monster looked so much better

seriously, the design is so rad and just a cool idea of a deep sea creature looking like a monstrous whale like creature from the depths. I don't mind the design of Clover but this one was infinitely better. Though the parasites in the movie were better than just giant crabs

Isnt Cloverfield monster supposed to be a baby though? Can you imagine his parents?

I remember the first time seeing the trailer for this in theatre.

I remember they attached the teaser trailer before Transformers that summer with no title. Just some found footage (before the genre got beaten into the ground) involving what appeared to be a monster attack and a release date. It left you wondering just what in the hell it was.

The last frame was the head of the statue of the liberty ripped off.

Also Paramount took down everyone who leaked.

I was more excited to go home to find out more about that awesome fucking trailer than I was to watch Transformers.

Everyone thought it was going to be a Voltron movie lol

I remember that buzz. Others thought Power Rangers too.

I saw this fucking trailer when I was eight years old and of course had no idea what it was but was terrified for some reason. I ended up watching Cloverfield a few years later and love the movie but I'll never forget how scared I got from that trailer haha

I remember people dissecting it.

"I saw it it's alive"

"No it's a giant lion. He said 'I saw it, it's a lion'"

Comment deleted6 months ago(1 child)

Every format has fans, I liked found footage until it got too scripted and forced for my liking.

I participated in this and it was a lot of fun.

Me too. It was one of the best experiences in the internet that I have memories of.

The campaign from Cloverfield Lane was cool too.

I had a bunch of fun with the Halo 3 ARG. Many nights staying up till 3am reading threads and piecing together images and videos and coordinates.

ARGs can be the best marketing for something if done right.

ARGs can be the best marketing for something if done right.

And then you have Blizzard and their Sombra ARG. Jesus, what a shitshow.

Behind this countdown... is another countdown!

4 points · 6 months ago · edited 6 months ago

Payday 2 had one that was fun until it became apparent it would be revealed in some far off eventual DLC. My favorite was San Andreas mythbusting. There were a lot of myths and legends surrounding San Andreas. Big Foot, sea serpents, ghosts, ghost cars, etc. I modded a forum dedicated to them. Most turned out to be fake but the ghost car was real although likely some kind of glitch. There was something going on with it because it turned invisible underwater. And the big one was that flying a plane for 30 minutes away from land and then jumping out and drowning will give the map more gang territories. Originally you were supposed to fly 30 minutes and jump out to make the sea serpent appear. But some people drowned accidentally trying to find it and yeah you can get your whole map covered in gang territory which is really fun post-completion. Oh and the alien radio station, that was real too.

Payday 2 had one that was fun until it became apparent it would be revealed in some far off eventual DLC.

Yessss this. The payday 1 arg was hella fun and they set the one for the 2nd game up SO MUCH but still havent delivered

Lucille Bat

The Owl Sector ARG for Destiny before RoI came out was a lot of fun.

I still have a bottle of Praline Cream Soda in my fridge (shit is so sugar laden it gave me a migraine the first time I drank it) and I wear my Swamp Pop t-shirt pretty often. Never did do anything with the puzzle pieces I got though.

Ah, Slusho, those were the days

Original Poster129 points · 6 months ago

“It’s a lion! It’s huge!”

110 points · 6 months ago

I remember sitting on my desktop when I was 17, 3am - watching a fan theory video that cloverfield isn’t about just a monster and that it was, in fact, a power rangers movie.

The hype was real lol.

I remember obsessing over it, as well. Just about drove everyone around me nuts.

Then when I finally saw the movie, I somehow became even more annoying. At one point, you see the monster's tail swipe at a bridge, and I nudged my friend and whispered, "OMG it has a tail."

Comment deleted6 months ago(1 child)



I remember people being convinced that it was a Voltron movie.

"Dude, this movie is a secret Voltron movie!"

Those were good times.


When in reality they just slipped in the line "It's alive!" to ensure people that it was a monster movie and not about like a terrorist attack or something.

It legit bothered me more than it should have that people thought he said "it's a lion."

i guess there was just a lot of hype for a voltron movie at the time? at least they eventually got a netflix show so we don't see people thinking God Particle is a stealth voltron movie too

82 points · 6 months ago · edited 6 months ago

I loved playing along with the ARG and reading the theories.

My first taste of viral online marketing was for 'The Blair Witch Project'. They had a few websites for the missing kids and a bunch of 'newspaper' articles too. This was in late-1998 and the internet wasn't really used for stuff like that then. I was 18 when it came out and I was lucky enough to sort-of believe the hype; was it real? Thinking it could be real made that movie-going experience scary as fuck. Ohh man, that ending... the crowd went nuts (in a good way). Smash cut to black and NO CREDITS rolled for 1-2 minutes. Everyone stayed in their seats talking about it.

2 weeks after seeing the movie... there is Heather in a Steak-n-Shake commercial smirking.

there was a faux news report tv show on as well opening night that i had caught just enough of not to realize it was fake

I even had roomates that went with me and it was all lights on when we went home, never been that scared after a movie before lol

It probably helped that The Blair Witch Project is actually a pretty good movie marketing gimmick aside. I saw it for the first time this summer, and had pretty much just stopped shitting into diapers when the movie dropped and the movie was still creepy as hell IMO.

I believe it was one of the first found footage films, so it had that going for it as well.

It popularized found footage films. The first that I know of was Cannibal Holocaust back in the 80's. Cannibal Holocaust is only about half found footage though and the other half is traditional narrative. But Blair Witch is the first found footage movie most people saw.

The Sci-Fi channel also broadcasted a fake documentary about the Blair Witch and interviewed the family members of Heather, Josh, and Mike.

Still the greatest viral marketing campaign of all time, I doubt it'll ever be topped. The fact that you can piece together the origins of the monster based off of articles from websites like Tagurato and the fake news reports of the oil rig going down. To even making fake myspace profiles for the characters. I did enjoy that they did actually add a tiny bit on to the ARG for 10 Cloverfield Lane by having John Goodman's character listed as employee of the month for one of Taguratos branches and even giving a website he made for his daughter that had secret messages hinting at what was to come.

20 points · 6 months ago

the oil rig going down

That vid was a highlight of the campaign for me. It showed so little but said so much. I don't enjoy watching it now because the effects are so shoddy, though!

Still the greatest viral marketing campaign of all time, I doubt it'll ever be topped.

I would put The Blair Witch Project up against it. The internet was smaller back in the 90's, but they had a full on viral phenomenon with their marketing.

The viral marketing campaign for The Dark Knight is comparable. People bought fucking cakes with cell phones baked into them.

It to me was on another level! TDK had physical clues in different major cities that people would go out and look for! Ugh, miss those days!

I liked the Blair Witch Project campaign where they released a meta-documentary about the 4 kids who disappeared while searching for the Blair Witch

Anyone else remember the Ethan Haas stuff that everyone thought was linked to Cloverfield but ended up being a viral campaign for a completely different video game?

13 points · 6 months ago

Not a video game. It was a pen and paper RPG called Alpha Omega. I ended up buying a copy because it got swept up in the Cloverfield viral marketing. The game system wasn't super, but the setting and premise were super interesting. In a nut shell, Angels and Devils are actually ancient alien species that use Earth as a battle ground for an endless war whenever the planet is conveniently equidistant to both homeworlds. Both sides work to manipulate the humans and other denizens into fighting their war as proxies. Also, Earth has kinda gone to shit, owning to nuclear devastation and cyberpunk-ness. Think Shadowrun with stronger judeo-christian themes.

That premise sounds fucking rad. Is the game still alive, or did the publisher stop making new books?

That name sounds familiar. What game was it?

Anyone remember the old forum? How many though it was a VOLTRON movie?

"It's a lion! It's huge!"

How did so many people mistake that when "it's alive" made so much more sense contextually?

On CWs The Flash, there was an episode where one of the characters was talking about Oliver Queen (Green Arrow) and said, in reference to Queen "what THAT MAN does", and people flipped the fuck out thinking he said "batman". It was painfully obvious that he said "that man", since there had not been a single reference to Batman on any of the DC CW shows at the time, and there was no logical reason for the character to say "batman" in the context of the story.

No true. They show the newspaper from the future in the first episode and it talks about a merger between Queen consolidated and Wayne enterprises. They also show Harley Quinn in season 3 if Arrow as well as constant references to Bludhaven throughout the show. Though it does sound like "that man" people have been anticipating Batman in the show since season 1 of Arrow.

I hope we get a part 2 of Cloverfield.

There was a funny idea I read after the first movie came out about how the sequel should be a melodramatic big-budget Hollywood "based on a true story" version of the first film's events.

Wasnt there a rumor of a script focused on the exact same attack only from a single soldier's perspective?

Yeah I think I remember that. If not a soldier then at least someone else with a camera. Like the other guy on the bridge recording the night.

There was a scene in Cloverfield when they’re on the bridge. Hud passes another guy with a camera. The concept likely would’ve been from his perspective and that was rumored for a bit, but obviously nothing ever came of it.

YES! That's right. Good memory. I forgot about that detail.

Does 10 Cloverfield Lane count?

I have no clue. The first film was about a monster attack, the second is about an alien invasion. Kinda want a sequel of the first film.

8 points · 6 months ago

The two are not in the same universe. It's an anthology series.


i higly doubt it will happen at this point, but if it ever did i hope its in a mockumentary style detailing what happened on new york after the fact, one of the people being interviewed could even be the one girl that survived, possibly even dabbing on the japan attack too (if thats even considered cannon)


guess i was wrong, but seryously are you stalking me or something how did you find my comment XD

I was actually just reading this thread because I was telling friends about how awesome the original Cloverfield marketing was.

i see

The campaign was so good I spent hours on another viral campaign because the internet thought it was related to Cloverfield.

Amygdala by any chance? Creepy webpage of a hotel room door or something? That one sucked me in for days.

I need to drink Slusho as I read this

That marketing campaign is legit 100% responsible for who I am today. Still the best advertising work made in the digital age for a movie.

wow, ive never met a person defined by a marketing campaign. What a bizarre world we live in.

Ah, I know it sounds weird as fuck. But it got me interested in the potential of social media, which made me change my major, which got me my first job, which helped me get my first apartment, which made me meet new friends, who introduced me to my girlfriend, who supported me as I started and ran my own business. So looking back... Yeah, I'd be a different person if it weren't for those cryptic teasers and odd Myspace pages.

That's an awesome story.

-7 points · 6 months ago(2 children)
5 points · 6 months ago

you must be kidding aren't you

You're tearing me apart, monarc!

9 points · 6 months ago

The Dark Knight viral campaign is my favorite by far and got me interested in public relations/advertising.

I feel like no one talks or remembers this campaign, coming up on ten year anniversary. Such a fun time in my life, iMDB message board trying to figure out all the puzzles, we had even a different day and night crew on the boards, I even met a girl on there I started a LDR with all from a viral campaign! Take me back!

And yet we have people defined by their fandom for huge corporate movies, or video games, or music...

20 points · 6 months ago

I loved reading all the theories people had trying to connect the dots from Slusho to the monster.

Imagining a slushy company were somehow involved with the creation of a monster was an entertaining read.

I remember seeing the first trailer when I was a kid and I was so captivated. We didn't know anything, not even the title at first. I remember being into the different sites, forums eventual slusho commercials, the manga and finally seeing the film essentially alone at 12 because no one else I knew had any idea what the film was and had no interest.

Oh man, where has the time gone? I remember poring over all of the websites just trying to get a glimpse of the monster. For the first few months, I thought it was a secret Godzilla movie. It's funny, without Cloverfield, maybe we wouldn't have the monster movie renaissance we're experiencing right now. Or at least, I'd like to think so.

I was still young enough to believe a monster may actually be coming. I will never have that much hype for a movie again, because I will never have that childlike trust in media again.

Maybe the Hawaii false alarm was just a viral marketing campaign taken to the extreme?

It’s a lion! it’s huge!!”

3 points · 6 months ago

I was obsessed with the marketing. To the point that I bugged my aunt to buy me a Slusho shirt -- I was living outside the US at the time.

10 years later I'm now in the US and my shirt is back overseas.

Still got mine too!

Member they packaged it with pieces of Japanese newspaper?

I had to go put on my Slusho shirt when I saw this article.

4 points · 6 months ago

Whelp. Going to watch Cloverfield now.

Participating in this ARG is one of my favorite internet memories! Loved reading this.

shout to my LEEL boys at r/cloverfeels

This thread brings back so many memories

Seeing my home city being destroyed through the eyes of a group of native New Yorkers was awesome.

it bears mentioning that Miller, like Knowles, is another figure attached to this saga with a now-public laundry list of assault and harassment allegations.

Does it really bear mentioning? Does it have any relevance to this article about the viral marketing campaign of a decade old movie? No. It doesn't. Obviously not great behavior, but fucking shit does it have to infect what should be a totally unrelated commentary about a totally unrelated thing?

-14 points · 6 months ago(0 children)

Cloverfield's marketing campaign was the best until Deadpool's.

I miss not knowing of a huge movie trailer popping up in front of a movie. Movie trailers are released on the internet like a week or two before they first pop up in theaters. Cloverfield's teaser in front of Transformers was awesome. I bet some people talked more about that trailer for a movie with no name and just the 1:18:08 release date than they did about the movie they went to see in the first place.

I'm still a big fan of the movie itself. It was more about normal people trying to survive an attack from a giant monster than a movie about a giant monster rampaging through NYC.

Another cool thing about the movie is that they did it all on a 25 million dollar budget and only filmed like 5 minutes of the movie in NYC (the Brooklyn Bridge and Coney Island scenes).

I can argue Cloverfield is still better than Deadpool's

Deadpool marketing sure is funny af and pretty Deadpool-ish, but Cloverfield's viral campaign supports the movie so much, it helps the plot more, it sets you in the universe and tells you how scary is the monster

-23 points · 6 months ago(0 children)

Deadpool pales in comparison to Cloverfield lol. People thought Deadpool was funny. Cloverfields gave you an in depth exploration of a movie that you don't even know very much about. It builds the mythology while also getting you hyped for a movie. That marketing gave it such a big word of mouth that a found footage big monster movie made so much more than it would've

-16 points · 6 months ago(3 children)

Deadpool had history as a comic book character. Compare to a movie that had a sweet marketing campaign. You comparing numbers is just stupid. Cloverfield was a smaller movie that also help push the found footage idea. Deadpool was a rated r superhero movie that was edgy and that's about it.

Not to mention Deadpool had an A-list lead whereas the Cloverfield cast were relatively unknown.

They also made the movie on a low budget. Then again the same thing happened with Deadpool, but that was more due to executive meddling than just making a low-budget movie for kicks.

I just hated that the trailers revealed so many of the good jokes

It still has one of my favorite posters of all time. I actually bought it a few years ago and it hangs in my room framed because I love it so much.

I posted a comment on one of the Rob character's MySpace Blog posts. When I posted it, they must have been in the process of updating the pages/posts and somehow my comment slipped through. Rob's blog post had several comments from HUD and other characters, each one popping up within minutes of each other and exactly when I posted mine.

And tucked neatly in the thread was my comment.

It was RIP Inbox for awhile after that. So many messages from people asking if I was part of the ARG, if I worked for Bad Robot ... it was kinda surreal.

Great movie

I was addicted to the Cloverfield marketing campaign. I was constantly checking for new updates and checking all the websites that were allegedly connected to it to try and find new information.

Must look into this further. I never heard about this campaign. Wasn't a fan of the movie.

The marketing for this was nothing short of brilliant. Very intriguing and really got you excited for the movie.

unfortunetly i wanst aware of the viral marketing that was going on before the movie came out, but i was actively participating in the theories with people online including during the "its a lion" thing, i remember discovering the forum detailing it all right after i watched the movie in theaters, because all i wanted was talk to people about it, in fact cloverfield is most likely one of the things responsible for my absolute love of storytelling and my interest in discussing it with people, it might sound silly but it for sure triggered something in me.

the viral marketing certainly made the mo0vie so much better in my eyes and at times it managed to be legitimely creepy, that girls vlogs whos boyfriend went to a spy mission on tagruato never to be heard again, and her personality change right after she injested the goop is for some reason still creepy to me.

Is there a place that's gathered all the viral marketing material? I would love to relive that haah

I'll always remember Cloverfield's marketing campaign because I was busy following the campaign for Smash Bros Brawl at the same time

I really really wanted to like Cloverfield. I did like the story, and for the most part the acting. But it was the movie that cemented my hatred for found footage cinematography.

This shit was so annoying. I was not shocked when I saw Abrams was behind it.

-2 points · 6 months ago

The ending sort of ruined it when HUD gets eaten by the monster the size of a skyscraper that silently shows up and that was after it decided to bat down their chopper, a size of a fly in comparison, even though its randomly decimating the city.

Are you saying you dont notice, and swat at flies that are around you?

-12 points · 6 months ago(0 children)

would be crazy if they guy behind lost made another ARG for a monster movie

That's impossible!

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