Nokia’s Viral Campaign Confuses Consumers

Nokia has launched a new viral marketing campaign designed to take advantage of consumer curiosity. Unfortunately, the message is so obscure and the timing is so poor, it doesn’t seem to be attracting much interest.

First, they began with a site called OpenAtOwnRisk.com which challenged consumers with “A secret that can now be found within Nokia Download service, allowing the public – you, to find the key and break the seals. And see…” There was no indication as to what the announcement would be, although one can assume it will be related to a new product, service or software.

The story they’re telling began “hundreds of years ago when several royal families got together and created something so unnerving, it was locked up behind four seals.” The instructions on how to break the seals have been hidden for generations. And, now the seals were to be broken, according to a hidden count down, around 101 hours from the initial site launch. In other words, today.

This morning the same URL contained a sly “notice of termination” letter that appears, at first glance, to be a genuine cease and desist order to the person who launched the site. But, the copy indicates the person behind the site will stand trial accused of “intent to publish content driving people insane.” Obviously, this is not a real charge and is the next step in the campaign.

While the concept is clever, the execution of this campaign is flawed. There hasn’t been a great deal of media coverage on it, even in the blogosphere. And, the coverage I have seen is largely confused by the campaign. Now, being confused is not necessarily a bad thing. Getting people asking each other what it is and what they think of the announcement was clearly the goal here. But, Nokia has some things working against them in terms of really generating interest. First, the 101 hour countdown took place over a U.S. holiday (4th of July / Independence Day) when millions of people were on the beach instead of online. Secondly, some bloggers and commenters on blogs are confused by the notice of termination letter. Many people, it seems, are not reading the letter closely enough to catch the joke of it and are, instead, dismissing the campaign entirely.

Clearly, the letter is designed to generate more anticipation and further the notion that whatever lies behind the seals is terribly strange. Unfortunately, the delay in showing this content is creating the opposite effect. People are losing interest.

I will keep you advised of new developments in the campaign. But, so far, it seems to be a good idea executed poorly.

UPDATE: QuicklyBored found the video behind the campaign.

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