Dark Knight Rises "viral" campaign is dumb and dumber

The attempted ‘viral’ marketing campaign for The Dark Knight Rises is really, really bad.

This past weeked, Warner Bros. released two new videos to hype the film. The reveal of Bane was bad enough, this stuff is just sad. It certainly doesn’t strengthen my desire to see the film. Does anyone actually appreciate this cruft? 

Okay, full disclosure time: a part of my dislike of this campaign is the whole idea of “viral marketing.” One cannot force viral Internet presence. If one wants truly viral presence, one would have to post the video quietly to an anonymous account and let people discover it and share it on their own. Posting the video to an official account where people know to look for it is not “viral” marketing, it’s just regular marketing. 

With that dumbness aside, the videos themselves are not worthy of sharing. Of course, I’m gonna share them with you anyway to make my point about how dumb they are, and maybe that’s the intent, but I have a feeling they did not really intend them to be this bad.

There were three videos released over the course of this week. The first one is not so bad as the others. The shots at least look like they could have been captured by a mobile phone camera, even if the ‘low quality’ of the scene is clearly faked. It shows footage of some kind of structural fire.

The second one is the worst offender of the three.

It starts out looking similar to the first one with footage from an angle that could be interpreted as being from a mobile, but then it gets weird and starts showing scenes and angles that don’t really make sense, like the view from inside a speeding car that skips like a record, with a volume enhanced version of the earlier chanting from what seems to be the evacuation of prisoners (from Arkham, I suppose). It ends with some low talking on a black background, something like “That’s too much for one vehicle,” but it’s hard to make out.

The last one is supposedly footage from Gotham City News, and it only lasts only eighteen seconds.

Genre veteran Anthony Micheal Hall seems to be playing the role of the muffled anchor person announcing that something is wrong at Arkham. (update 6 June 2011 615pm: corrected name of actor) 

The clip ends with a couple of frames showing a web address, which leads here. A site we already knew about, and which you can also find by just searching Facebook for “The Fire Rises”

So, it’s all really dumb, but what is it for?

I guess it’s gotten a few people wondering if it’s a real WB marketing campaign or if it’s fan produced (hint: previous connections between the official website for the film and the Facebook page show that it, at least, is definitely commissioned by the studio), but otherwise is it really compelling anyone to want to see the film?

I suppose it’s good to experiment with different marketing techniques now and again, but this kind of stuff just rankles. It smells like arrogance and silliness, and I hope they don’t keep doing more of it.