Virtal Realty Master Plans – Top Secret
aka: One of the best marketing ploys…ever!
By Robert Fine
Where do I begin? I suppose, at the beginning. Right before the Labor Day holiday, I received a very mysterious package in the mail. See the envelope below. Handwritten, with a return address from Toronto. At first, I really thought it was a book that someone was pitching me. But when I opened it, lo and behold…a VHS tape! Blast from the past. What threw me completely off was the misspelling of “virtual reality” as “virtal realty.” What did some sick, demented sociopath just send me?
After a little thought, I realized it must have been sent from someone I may have met at the VRTO conference I attended in Toronto just a couple months ago. Not having a VCR handily available, I really didn’t know what else to do with the tape, except post it online. Little did I know that I was playing right into their trap.
So, I took a photo of it and shared it on my social channels. Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Much to my surprise, within about 48 hours, the chatter around the tape was blowing up on LinkedIn. After four days, it had received over 24,000 views, 70+ comments and 100+ Likes. It was a quite a fun discussion. I had no idea how many people had seen The Ring. There were a great number of different ideas from where the tape came from. I think I liked the thought of Doc sending it from the future in a DeLorean best.
I did start to receive a number of offers to borrow someone’s VCR. Or dig it out of their garage. I finally had a local friend reach out and tell me she had a VCR. I had plans to eventually to go over and play the tape. Unfortunately, I had some travel during early September, and going out of my way to find a VCR and play the tape just wasn’t at the highest of my priorities, as much as my curiosity was piqued.
A few days ago, I received an email from Nicole Stuber of Secret Location, finally letting me in on the gag, and that it was they who sent the VHS tape to help promote their new VR game: Blasters of the Universe. It gave me a great chuckle to learn that it was them, and I thought a very creative move on their part. At this point, I still hadn’t seen the video. In the last few days, they’ve been kind enough to post the clips on YouTube, and so we’re sharing it here first on VR Voice:
Hopefully, the coverage of the marketing attempt itself will provide some of the PR they were looking to get out of the stunt. For as good as the conversation and chatter on LinkedIn was, the names Secret Location and Blasters of the Universe didn’t come up at all. The clips are definitely funny, particularly the last one in which the protagonist is calling the girl Becky, who he’s in love with, and sharing his plans to take over virtual reality. Though, I have to say, I’m glad I didn’t expend a huge amount of time and energy to find a VCR just to play the tape.
Being able to watch the video on YouTube is much easier, and it still maintains and demonstrates that old 80s/90s quality of VHS. I’d love to see an episodic series around the character on YouTube and some buildup with a story. It would be an easier share, and I think generate more traffic and interest for the game. I really do have to give Secret Location a big thumbs up and kudos for originality and thinking out of the box regarding the marketing. It certainly got my attention, and many others extremely curious.