Cable network A&E is readying the third season premier of its show “MindFreak” hosted by illusionist Criss Angel. The cable channel went to creative agency EVB to develop a promotion to raise awareness of the show before its June 5 launch.
The result is a viral execution on the ”Freak Your Mind” microsite, prompting users to play a trick on their friends. Users type in their friend’s name and phone number, creating a unique URL to pass along. The URL directs recipients to the mock video-sharing site time4vids.com which displays a video of Criss Angel. The trick occurs when the illusionist calls the viewer by his name, and flips playing cards over in the order of his phone number. Soon afterwards, the viewer receives a call from Criss Angel divulging the participation of his friend, and urging viewers to watch the premier of the show.
When EVB introduced the concept to the client to raise awareness of the show and its upcoming premier, “Everybody got it immediately,” said Daniel Stein, founder and CEO of EVB. “Criss got it, embraced it, and helped make the idea better. His performance is stellar.”
EVB used a mock video-sharing site instead of a site like YouTube because of technology requirements needed to play dynamic video for each visitor. Video was shot in little clips, then when a user types in a friend’s name and phone number, those clips are stitched back together. Production involved filming Angel saying over 500 names, and flipping over several playing cards to represent digits in a phone number.
“The visual quality of the experience matters, the seamlessness,” said EVB co-founder and Creative Director Jason Zada. “We’ve seen versions of stuff like this, but nothing as seamless.”
A&E is running banner ads to drive traffic to the microsite, but Stein said most of the traffic is likely to happen virally. “Even when there is a media plan around something, by far the majority of traffic comes through word of mouth or through the blogs,” said Stein.
The video can only be viewed once, but users are likely to play the same trick on more of their friends. Once someone is sent the video “they go freak 10 of their friends’ minds,” said Zada.
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