The Movie Waffler Clever Movie Marketing Campaigns That Demonstrated the Power of the Internet | The Movie Waffler

Clever Movie Marketing Campaigns That Demonstrated the Power of the Internet

Clever Movie Marketing Campaigns That Demonstrated the Power of the Internet

By now, you don’t need to be told that the internet levelled up everyone’s marketing game. For movies and other creative industries, it also allowed studios to flex their creative muscles and bring audiences into their thrilling fictional world. Some truly great marketing campaigns followed, but have become a footnote in the long story of Hollywood. Here are three clever campaigns that masterfully used the internet to market a movie.

The Matrix’s Super Bowl Ad

When websites went mainstream in the ‘90s, businesses fought to claim their slice of digital real estate. A variety of new and interesting business models followed and are still in use today, where entire companies exist online and have no presence in the real world. If you need examples, consider industries like iGaming which emerged from online casinos at the time. They’re still going strong, and many use the internet to host an online casino bonus, like shared prize pools from their dedicated website. Elsewhere, movies claimed their own URLs to reach audiences across the world. Some used their sites to host basic information about an upcoming release but, as you’ll see, other studios got a little creative.

One of the earliest examples of this debuted at Super Bowl XXXIII. Attendees witnessed an eclectic mix of shots from a movie we now know as The Matrix. The trailer gave nothing away about the movie, ending with the URL ‘’ Enter that into the Wayback Machine, and you can still see and navigate the site in all its glory. Warner Bros. also used the site to tease future Matrix releases, including The Matrix Resurrections in 2021.

The philosophical question, which interrupted a second-quarter touchdown for Fox viewers, had moviegoers dashing to their closest desktop to try to answer it. Back then, they didn’t know that it’d become one of the most important films of the time, setting the standard for CGI and cinematography going forward. Later in the year, The Blair Witch Project would double down with a website hoax that changed marketing forever.

Paranormal Activity’s Peek Inside the Theatre

Paranormal Activity was the movie that solidified Blumhouse’s success. After its success in 2007, Blumhouse steadily took over the entire horror movie industry with low-budget, high-return flicks that are still going strong. So, it’s fitting that Paranormal Activity used a cheap but very effective marketing tool that wouldn’t have worked as well if it weren’t for the Internet.

The studio held special screenings in America, the UK, and other key markets where they filmed audience reactions to the movie’s scares. They used the audience as bait while promising moviegoers that they were in for a good time. The terrified reactions of the audience were also funny to watch, leading to widespread sharing of the clip online at the time

The Dark Knight’s Alternate Reality Game

Shortly after Paranormal Activity’s viral trailer, The Dark Knight debuted with an alternate reality game (ARG) that has largely been forgotten since. It’s easy to understand why – the movie itself became a phenomenon, and Heath Ledger’s passing quickly occupied meta-conversations about the film and its production.

Before the movie hit theatres, Christopher Nolan worked with the creators of a different ARG – the Year Zero ARG to promote the Nine Inch Nails album of the same name. Nolan wanted in, and so they devised Why So Serious?, an online rabbit hole consisting of multiple sites filled with fake news articles, police reports and webisodes of a news program called Gotham Tonight. They tracked the events between Batman Begins and the sequel, ominously documenting Batman’s biggest villain as he set the trap that would spring in The Dark Knight. You can find a more detailed explanation of this viral marketing campaign here.