Forgetting Sarah Marshall Viral Marketing Hits a Homerun

There’s nothing like blurring the lines between reality and fiction when creating a viral campaign. Add a little bit of mystery forcing your audience to seek out the story and you’ve got a homerun in my book. Take Universal’s new campaign for the movie, Forgetting Sarah Marshall.

It began with vague billboards and banner ads citing random phrases like “My mom always hated you Sarah Marshall” and “You DO look fat in those jeans, Sarah Marshall.” A simple url on the banners was the only clue for the curious.

The url, brings you to Peter Bretter’s blog. Peter (played by Jason Segel in the film) explains in his blog entries that he was dumped by Sarah and vows to blog about her every day. The posts are spot-on in their ingenuity and authenticity, right down to Peter insisting he’s not the one calling Sarah at night and hanging up, so she should stop spreading those lies. Beautiful. Pure high school. (Granted, the movie’s characters are in their mid-20s, but the sentiment and target audience is not.)

In the film, Sarah (played by Kristen Bell) stars in a crime show on TV. I was thrilled to see on that Universal has launched a “fan site” for Sarah and the show Crime Scene. Questions are raised on the site about her new single status. And, Universal promises more blogs and sites to come.

It’s great to see this kind of creativity again. I particularly love the ambiguity of the ads. A few years back I had a lot of fun and success with a curiosity-driven movie campaign and I found the less information I put out there, the more conversation I could spark online. And, that’s what it’s all about.

Forgetting Sarah Marshall hits theaters April 18th. I will keep you posted as the campaign grows and media coverage builds. Congratulations to everyone at Universal!

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