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Marketer: Stella Artois

Agency: Draft London

No soul among 700,000 is worthy of Stella Artois

[London] Stella Artois' complex interactive campaign was described by cyber judges at last month's Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival-who didn't award it a Lion-as "bizarre," "too ahead of itself" and "the most creative piece of work entered."

Draft London calls its campaign "an interactive cross between 'The Da Vinci Code,' the legend of Faust and 'The Matrix,' as imagined by David Lynch."

The cryptic campaign's premise is that Stella Artois beer is so desirable that people will sell their souls to drink it. Sable & Shuck is a company that trades in human souls and has kidnapped John Harker, who is out to expose the organization. Draft created a complex chase through cyberspace, with occasional stopovers in the real world, for the missing John Harker. There are symbolic press ads, fake editorial concealing cryptic Web addresses and 13 Web sites linked either physically or thematically. Then there are Sable & Shuck T-shirts on eBay, street graffiti, business cards handed out in select bars and even real telephone calls.

Players must register and measure the worth of their own souls before they can play. Nobody is ever judged worthy of Stella. Despite its complexity, Stella set a target of 20,000 unique visitors; the number is now nearing 700,000. Fans have set up their own sites and its reach has extended beyond the U.K. into Europe, Japan and the U.S. A reward of nearly $20,000 will soon go to the winner.

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