While the use of Google Earth in branded interactive games isn't new, Tribal DDB/Dallas believes the Superman Returns effort breaks new ground—or air, as the case may be. "It's much more immersive than the other Google executions I've seen," says executive creative director Scott Johnson. "Thousands of crystals are hidden all over North America, and people really have to work to find them. We've also built in much more give-and-take between the consumer and the environment than I've seen elsewhere. When you find a crystal on the site, you grab it and get feedback on whether you're an instant winner—and every day there's a new clue that sends you in a different direction looking for crystals. It's designed to keep people coming back and give them a different experience every time. Consumers don't simply find something on Google Earth and then discover that they're in the digital equivalent of a dead-end street."
One unexpected effect the daily clues have had is the creation of an entire online community around the game. "The sharing of clues and locations of crystals on blogs and message boards was something that happened spontaneously," says Johnson. "We didn't seed it in any way. That being said, we're not surprised it happened on a site this engaging."