May 24, 2006


Brave new marketing? Lost reconfigures TV: Even your favourite show is becoming interactive (Scott Colbourne, 5/24/06, Globe and Mail)

It has been called TV 2.0: The hit series Lost has left passive viewing behind, entering an interactive space where fans comb through fake websites for clues and read real books by fake authors in an attempt to figure out what is happening on a mysterious island. This is either a brave new world of storytelling or an absurd marketing gimmick -- and it shouldn't really matter which, since both could be entertaining to follow.

The Lost story, in one form or another, promises to continue over the summer even though its second season wraps up tonight . [...]

During a commercial break from the madness of its May 3 episode, an ad for something called The Hanso Foundation was aired. There was a 1-800 number to call and an elaborate new website for the fake organization was launched ( Callers and web visitors were directed to clues that were part of a game, The Lost Experience. It belongs to a category known as alternate reality games, or ARGs, wherein fictional stories are combined with real-world elements. There are puzzles to solve and research to be done using a mix of real and contrived websites.

The Hanso site, with its visually impressive splash page and flashing clues in unexpected places, is certainly worth a visit just to see the effort (and the real funds) involved in the game, but several other linked sites have been derided for being blatant ads, especially one for a soft drink that has little to do with the castaways on the island.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 24, 2006 9:27 AM

As the network's market share continues to decline, having a core base of loyal fans for a single show becomes as important as having a larger rating, with less supportive viewers. If you can get people to care enough about a show like "Lost" or "24" or "American Idol" to take that passion from the TV screen to the computer screen, it's not surprising that advertisers would try to make the jump as well in trying to connect their names with the show.

Posted by: John at May 24, 2006 9:57 AM

Thumbs down on the season finale.

Posted by: erp at May 24, 2006 11:28 PM