Repo (Ob)Session

By Apr 01, 2010

IT MAY NOT HAVE ALIENS FLYING AT YOU IN 3-D, but if you’re a certain type of moviegoer, Universal Pictures’ “Repo Men” can get its dystopian hooks into you. Set in a future where 100% artificial organs are available — for an impossible price — the movie was the center of a 360-degree marketing push before its March 19 debut that included Web content, mobile out-of-home promotions, and a live manhunt. “It’s all meant to be a unique experience that takes you into the movie,” says Ben Blatt, Universal’s manager of digital marketing. “A lot of action films can look very similar, so when you have a unique concept like this, online/offline games and mobile extensions reward people for showing interest.” And build lots of viral buzz in the process, of course.

• Universal and Wired magazine chose four ordinary people to go underground and try to stay hidden for the month before the premiere, with only some cash and a GPS phone. Fans could sign up to become repo hunters and use the Web to find and share insights as the runaways traveled around the country, posting daily clues on their locations. They could be caught by someone tagging their shoulder: “You’ve been repo’ed.”

• Just as the movie repo men use scanners to detect overdue organ payments, posters in 15 cities held scannable barcodes that would unlock clips and other movie content from the Web site, for those savvy enough to use the RedLaser iPhone scanner app on them — a nice mesh of content and tech platform.

• Available iTunes content included not just a movie trailer and featurette, both available in HD and viewable over iPhones, but an animated “motion comic” with an original story around Jude Law’s character.

• Besides stats on the repo prey, the movie’s Web sites provided content ranging from elaborate product catalogs for “artiforgs” to deadpan TV-spot parodies from movie director Miguel Sapochnik and “easy financing plans” from the movie’s villain entity, The Union.