Our assignment was to create an alternate reality game (ARG) for the well-loved cable smash hit DEXTER on the Showtime Networks. The goal was to amplify excitement leading up to the premiere of the new season of DEXTER.
We won the challenge with the idea of creating a “summer reading project for the iPad generation.” Telling a new story that was inspired by the mind of Dexter, but completely original, we used any media that was appropriate to move the story along, to hide clues, to create suspense, and to entertain.
Kicked off with a live murder scene at the 2010 San Diego Comic-Con, the game unfolded into a full-blown immersive transmedia experience. We followed a serial killer, dubbed The Infinity Killer, and assisted ex-FBI agent Dee “Serial Huntress” Pratt, in using crowd-sourced crime fighting to track him down.
The two characters engaged players across two main sites (sleepsuperbly.com and serialhuntress.com), as well as countless microsites, social media profiles, mobile components, and real-world locations. The outcome of the game was actually determined by player participation, and elements from the ARG appeared in the new season of DEXTER.
The DEXTER ARG solidified the power of transmedia for the future of marketing. By giving people a shared goal and the tools to form a community around it, we were able to achieve a new level of intimacy between the DEXTER brand and its followers. Players were self-professed “addicts” to the game, the characters, and to each other. They engaged with us, the “puppetmasters,” in a continuous two-way stream, and welcomed both the entertainment we provided and the challenge to surprise us and take the game in new directions. This built a new sense of trust between creators and consumers, and pushed the ARG to new grounds for relationship marketing. Ultimately, we deepened the players’ relationship with the brand, and created socially-driven experiences that fostered relationships within the community.
Beyond the impact of the project itself, the greatest takeaway was the process required to create it. The ARG pushed us into a fluid flow of content creation, with content going from concepting, to production, to release in a super-condensed timeline. This applied to all content types, from videos to websites to live social media interaction, and yet enabled a remarkable breadth of beautiful experiences. This process, and the ARG itself, was all made possible by the fluid, collaborative relationship with our partners at Showtime.
2011 Webby Award Winner: People’s Voice award for Mobile & Experiential Marketing