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Bacteria and Fungi Grow to Advertise Upcoming Movie

September 13, 2011

The advertisement itself is not digital, but the video allows Warner Bros. Pictures to spread some hype about their upcoming movie via the Internet. I think the billboard itself is amazing and posting a short video about it allows those around the world to experience it also.

The film company assembled a pair of giant petri dishes and treated them with bacteria and fungi. They applied the bacteria and fungi on the dishes in specific areas. They then installed the seemingly empty dishes into a store front window that only said “In Theaters September 9.” Those passing by the store looked at the windows with confusion and wonder. As the bacteria and fungi grew over time in the displayed petri dishes, the word “Contagion” began to appear. News reporters and photographers soon crowded the window to watch the billboard evolve. People stopped to pose for pictures in front of the window and received t-shirts and other promotional items. This billboard was really new and exciting for people to experience. It created anticipation for the upcoming film about a disease that quickly spreads world wide.

Creating a video clip to post online was a really good move for Warner Bros. It allows the billboard to be viral online, not only in citites it was placed, and gets the buzz for it and the movie to spread even quicker. I found the video originally on a “digital buzz” website (http://www.digitalbuzzblog.com/contagion-real-bacteria-billboard-installation/) but also found it on many other media sites, like newspapers and news stations, and YouTube. I thought it was one of the coolest advertising tools I had seen in a long time. People who lived in that area could walk by every day to measure it’s growth, and those online got to experience a sped up version of the whole thing.

I think this billboard, although it is not very advanced technologically, has a very unique approach. They thought of something completely out of the box that has never been done before; this really got people talking about the billboard which in turn shined a spotlight on the movie and that is exactly what they wanted to achieve. Also, besides the construction of the billboard itself, Warner Bros. didn’t really have to do much else to market the movie with this. They literally just sat back and watch the hype grow.

One recommendation I would give though, would be to have this kind of billboard set in more areas. I know it would be expensive but I think people would travel to cities, if fairly close enough, to see something like this. It is definitely intriguing enough. But that is why they used online media to get people to notice the billboard. Also a live feed online would have been a really cool feature, besides just the video. People would have then gotten a better experience of it online and it would have made their digital campaign even stronger and more effective.

I think with this billboard the concept that “big ideas reign” is very fitting. I mean this billboard was such a great concept. No one expected those glass boxes to be filled with bacteria and fungi. People got to watch it grow over time and it got them excited about an upcoming product.

The fact that they created a video about this specific billboard and posted it online also added to the idea that “the experience is just as important as the idea.” Those outside Toronto got to witness this crazy advertisement without traveling to Canada. It allowed those watching online to experience this crazy billboard as well.

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