January 21st, 2009

"Lost" marketing campaigns losing creative edge?

by Kim Lannou

With the airing of a new “Lost” episode tonight, many fans await the arrival of the new adventurous season with hopes of answers and less questions. Through the scuffle in preparing for tonight’s 3-hour event, inquiring fans can’t help but wonder what happened to all the creative viral marketing campaigns seen in previous years.

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Sure, we have seen the Lost Season 5 banner ads and the preview commercials countless times … but where are the creative marketing strategies that were used in previous seasons? Marketing strategies that intrigued fans and non-fans alike about the new season and the meaning of the marketing message. The marketing strategies that make you wonder, ask questions and share your findings.

For those who are not fans, I suggest you review some of the creative tactics used in the past by this hit series. If you are a fan, what was your favorite marketing strategy used?

“Mobisodes” or Missing Pieces

Originally intended for mobile phones, these short stories were created for fans to view a series of 2-3 minute episodes. These episodes offered new, compelling clues about questionable scenes and favorite characters. “Mobisodes” are available as “Webisodes” and posted regularly.

Radio Spots

In the early life of the TV series, “Lost” marketers brought attention to the masses by airing several creative radio spots. Instead of the typical announcer format, the radio spots tied in directly with the show’s mysterious plot. In what sounded like radio interference from a distant signal, a static-y voice interrupted commercial breaks and pleaded for help. As the series premiere drew closer, the “distress calls” created intrigue by divulging only a limited amount of information about the show.

Billboard Campaign

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Probably the most unique method of advertising was the creation of several billboards. Invading more than 8 major cities around the world, “Lost” marketers placed billboards advertising the imaginary Oceanic Airlines. These billboards were strategically placed only in areas related to the show’s characters. Each billboard advertised different destinations and included the now defunct FlyOceanicAir website, which created an air of mystery for those exposed to this campaign.

Marvel Comics

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“Lost” again took it to another level when they placed key visual references from the TV series in popular Marvel Comics. Obvious symbols and references from the show were repeatedly found throughout the comics.

Interactive Websites

Several interactive websites were created to promote and advertise new seasons of “Lost,” including a website for the fictional Oceanic Airlines and another informational site about the Hanso Foundation, which plays a pivotal role in the plot.

With social networking continually growing and expanding to absorb all age groups, now is the time to think outside the box and invest in viral marketing. Even though I admit I was slightly disappointed in the lack of marketing promoting for the new season, “Lost” marketers have done their job well in the past. Rest assured, I know what I will be doing tonight at 8 pm.