Viral marketing is a relatively new buzzword, and there’s an insane amount of it going on to promote The Dark Knight. The folks behind it are setting the bar to new heights with every little piece of their elaborate puzzle, appealing directly to the hardcore fans who thrive on the anticipation for the film and the sheer fun of the hunt. One of those hardcore fans who have played along with it from the beginning is filling us in on the details. Part One here took us up to December of 2007, and Part Two jumped ahead to help us try to get in on the action as it happens. Part Three gets caught up through March 2008, and now we get the rest of the story up through today.
by Katrina Lehto
At the end of the bowling ball hunt, there is a new website address found by the participants. The Joker also gives out a password: needle, as well as telling you not to use a phony e-mail address and that it will all be okay. The address is Acmesecuritysystems.com/delos. The website appears to be a page full of security screens showing views of different places around Gotham. After submitting your information, the participant is given a phone call right away. A woman is on the other end and she says she’s from Acme Security systems and asks you for the password. Once the password (needle) is given there is an entirely different voice on the line and it isn’t the one I was expecting, at least. The message you hear is that of Jim Gordon and the message went like this: “This is Jim Gordon, major crimes, Gotham Police Department. Not the voice you were expecting… huh? We have your name. We have your number. We have your computer’s IP address. So what I’m saying is, we have you. Consider yourself the Gotham Police Department’s newest recruit. You see, this works one of two ways, either you’re going to jail for conspiracy in a criminal enterprise, or, you’ll work for me. We’ll be in touch. Oh, have a great day!” Looking at the webpage it has changed to say “Identity Captured”. It claims to have logged your name, e-mail and IP addresses as evidence. The next day (April 2nd) if you go back to the site, the pictures have changed and are still the same today.
Robert Downey Jr. is certainly running with his newfound status as an action hero, as he gravitates towards Cowboys and Aliens, a sci-fi/Western mix that may work better in people’s minds so long as it’s not trying to be an Indiana Jones movie.
Downey would play Union soldier Zeke Jackson, whose battle with the Apache would be cut short by a crash-landing spaceship, and the cowboys and Indians would have to band together to fight the alien threat. This makes for an interesting trend, after Indy 4 and the much-anticipated film Outlander, which would give us Vikings vs. aliens. Alien invasions at various points in human history – it could work. Crusaders vs. aliens, Renaissance philosophers vs. aliens… heck, maybe Steven Spielberg’s Abe Lincoln will be a secret alien, too!
On April the 4th the Gotham Police Department Major Crimes Unit website goes active. This is before another round of police corruption messages and investigations go through. A clue is sent from Wearetheanswer.org regarding corruption of GPD officer Francis Notaro, new documents on the GPD SID website are found, implicating that Albert Rossi, Joseph Candoloro, and Francis Notaro are covering up an investigation that somehow also involves Garcetti’s DA office. A wiretap reveals that they have been trying to bring down Harvey Dent’s campaign for DA. About the same time, a video clip is released, showing Rachel Dawes voicing her support for Harvey Dent’s campaign. On April 9th, new email is sent from Ibelieveinharveydent.com. It says that Harvey Dent is still in the race and isn’t planning on giving up – they still think he has a good chance of winning. The website is also updated with further news that there will be a press conference on April 13th with live streaming audio on the site. On the 13th another e-mail is sent out, reminding everyone of the press conference that day. The press conference, however, is cancelled when one of those aforementioned corrupt police officers takes hostages at Rossi’s Deli. There is audio available of the entire encounter. Almost unbelievably, Harvey Dent shows up as the police are negotiating with Notaro and exchanges himself for the woman that he is holding hostage. A few minutes after that, both men walk out of the building and Notaro is arrested. Harvey Dent is labeled “Gotham’s White Knight” in response to his actions during the standoff. On the 18th of April everyone who has given their phone numbers to the Harvey Dent campaign are called with a push poll survey. The questions are heavily slanted against Harvey Dent and can be heard still by dialing 1-877-777-6197. I didn’t discover it but there was a secret message to be revealed by answering with the numbers 1-6-4-9-3-8. The message says that those involved in the situation being investigated by GPD Internal Affairs need to be ready to travel.
On April 23rd, those who got caught by Jim Gordon are sent an e-mail by him. The e-mail says: “OK friend, you’re up to bat now. You have yourself a new assignment: Operation Slipknot.” “Operation Slipknot” turned out to be a hunt for GPD officers who had been issued arrest warrants due to their involvement with Concerned Citizens for a Better Gotham. Concerned Citizens for a Better Gotham was a group who was responsible to smear campaigns against Harvey Dent. Mugshots were featured on the site, and clicking on them resulted in details about their identity. The participants were told to call the concierge at the Gotham Intercontinental Hotel and tell the concierge that they are the person in question giving their reference number. The reference number was created by the total number of letters in the last name of the person you were pretending to be followed by their last name shifted forward one letter. (A becoming B and so forth.) You’re also supposed to tell the concierge that their travel plans have changed so the package needs to be forwarded at soon as possible. The concierge asks for a mailing address and tells you that the package will be sent overnight to them, addressed to the participant “in care of.” The participant’s phone number is also requested in case there’s an issue with the package. I was able to leave a message with the concierge but I was never able to get through to him specifically. The Fedex envelopes that were sent to those who did get through, however, contained the corresponding person’s driver’s license, foreign language book (for the destination in question), Joker card, a cell phone, several bearer bonds, and a letter containing an itinerary. After this happened a new text message from firstname.lastname@example.org to the Operation Slipknot participants leads to Whysoserious.com/Itsallpartoftheplan. The site features Jokerized pictures of various US currency-figurehead politicians labeled with cities, a countdown to April 28 and a new theatrical poster for The Dark Knight.
Certain coordinates in 12 cities are given and all participants are meant to meet at a certain time on Monday, April 28. On Monday, April 28 Whysoserious.com/Itsallpartoftheplan updates at 4, 5:40, 6:30 and 8:30 PM EST with instructions for the twelve events depending on the city in question. I was prepared for this event, as this was the first one that was after work as opposed in the middle of it. I got down to the park and there were a few Jokers milling about and I talked with some of them. We stood about chatting and Sean showed up not long after I started being chatty. And my organizing instinct started to kick in. I suppressed it for now, just talking to people who had an idea of what was going on. There was a paddle wheel boat that went by and a lot of us looked at that askance. Gathering by the water for a Joker thing and a boat that does not fit…. but luckily nothing came of it.
When we got within 15 minutes, I couldn’t help it any longer. I knew there would be three clues, so I got the attention of everyone there and explained what I knew about what happened in the other cities. People organized into groups. Once we got the clues they went out to get the numbers that answered the clues. About ten minutes later I realized the clues were sequential and that sending people out not together didn’t help matters but we solved them all anyway because we were all good at thinking on our feet and we knew the city area well. I felt badly about the whole misunderstanding but it worked out in the end. I stayed on the phone with my friend Kris who was at home helping with the computer clues, while the groups ran about. Because of this game, now I know there are lion faces on a building downtown. I had never noticed that before.
We followed the clue that the numbers gave us from the internet and ended up in an alleyway behind a movie theater. This also had disturbing portents. Not much good happens in alleys related to Batman. There we met our clown contact and he handed out Joker cards. The group of us that were together marched to Pacific Place and then into the theater. The ushers there seemed confused that we would do all of this for a trailer. It was fantastic to see the trailer in that situation, with those people. Afterward, there was a raffle for a film canister filled with the trailer we had just seen. Later, it was discovered that the film inside the canister had been Jokerized. You can see one of those versions of the trailer here.
After all of the events in all of the cities were complete, a code was revealed in San Francisco. That code led to Whysoserious.com/Sittingducks. Finishing this carnival-style duck shooting game reveals Whysoserious.com/Happytrails. That site was where the trailer was released to everyone else who had not seen it on May 4th. The Viral Marketing game goes dark for the month of May other than that. That brings us to the elections that are mentioned here. The results of the elections should be of no surprise to anyone – Harvey Dent has won by a landslide. This is revealed to Comcast subscribers who are able to see first episode of Gotham Tonight. Also, on June 13th, a new issue of The Gotham Times is uploaded to thegothamtimes.com. There has yet to be a Jokerized version of this issue yet but I wouldn’t be surprised if there is a version revealed in the coming week. Also on the 13th, the Joker cell phone owners were contacted. They are given a puzzle involving words and pictures. The first group of pictures are all types of games played with dominoes. The second group are words and each word is an anagram of letters from the word ‘commercial’. The third group of pictures are all of numbers and those numbers are all multiples of the fraction 3/8ths. The only one of those that is missing is 6/16. With the discovery of this website: Gothamcitypizzeria.com, it leads many players, including myself, that there will be an ad for Dominoes Pizza that will be a part of the game but as of this writing on the 15th, it is impossible to know.