Small Agency Campaign of the Year, Gold: Campfire

Rule-Breaking Digital, Outdoor Campaign for 'Hunted' Passes Test

By Published on .

Campfire's "Byzantium Tests" is a campaign that proves that good content, teamed with a little bit of luck, can go viral -- and land the agency a Small Agency Campaign of the Year award.

"Byzantium Tests" was an immersive, interactive microsite developed to launch the Cinemax show "Hunted." The program is about a spy working for a private intelligence organization called Byzantium who begins to suspect that a recent attempt on her life was orchestrated by the company she works for. The campaign began with a guerrilla out-of-home push featuring the security firm Byzantium alongside the words "We're not for everyone, just the 1% that matters."

Initially, the posters were supposed to go up in wealthy areas of Manhattan, but as Mike Monello, chief creative officer at Campfire, puts it, the agency ran into a "bit of luck" when it realized the poster launch happened to coincide with the first anniversary of Occupy Wall Street -- and many who saw them thought it was a real company advertising against the movement.

Those who read the posters closely went to ByzantiumSecurity.com, where they were invited to join the organization -- but only if they managed to pass a cryptic, and occasionally creepy, psychological test. The agency worked with a magician from London's Magic Circle to create the tests, which featured mysterious photos, listening and multitasking tests, and many, many mind games. Those who completed the tests received Get Glue badges and access to footage and "confidential" dossiers on the site.

More than 1.3 million users tried it, each staying on the site for an average 13 minutes. That's surprising for a campaign that, as Mr. Monello points out, broke all the "rules" of marketing -- it was a microsite when everyone says the microsite is dead; it required a serious time commitment; and the payoff (a surprising twist) came only at the end. In addition, it didn't play in-stream or embed easily.

It also didn't require much of the user. There was no signing in and no giving up of information -- what Mr. Monello calls "an easy ask" with a definite payoff. It also paid off for the client, whose goal was for "Hunted" to change Cinemax's perception in the marketplace (as "Skin-e-max," only good for late-night programs) to instead be viewed as an entertainment destination.

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