It has been quite some time since we’ve done one of these! “What If” has been absent for two years, so I feel honored to be able to revive the series. The What If series asks the question, “what if a movie that didn’t have a viral marketing campaign, had a viral marketing campaign?” And then we attempt to answer that question by creating a campaign for the featured movie. Hold on to your butts, because we’re going all the way back, 20 years ago, to 1992 and create a viral for Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park.
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Jurassic Park was based on the book of the same name by sci-fi thriller author Michael Crichton. Before the book was even published, studios entered a bidding war to acquire the screen rights. In 1990, Steven Spielberg and Universal Studios won the rights and hired Crichton to adapt the film for an additional $500,000.
The film was regarded as a landmark in the use of CGI and is currently the 20th highest grossing film in history, as well as the most financially successful film for Universal and Spielberg. Jurassic Park also won 3 Academy Awards: Best Sound Mixing, Best Sound Editing and Best Visual Effects. Two sequels, The Lost World: Jurassic Park (Based on Michael Crichton’s book sequel) and Jurassic Park III, were made with a third rumored to be in development.
Stage 1: InGen Website
The viral campaign for Jurassic Park would begin in the of Fall 1992. Pretending that the internet was back then what it is today, players come across www.ingen.com. Here, you will read about the history of the company and its founder, John Hammond. You can also apply for a position at InGen, and in two week’s time, your application will be processed, and you can then proceed to create an ID badge (which will be mailed to you).
Stage 2: The Jurassic Park Project/Employees Only
There is an “Employees Only” section of the site that requires a password to access. This problem is solved when the ID badges arrive in a very official envelope. There is a letter from the head of human resources which states what job you have in the company (Geneticist), and also contains your login information for the InGen site. There are several official documents watermarked with red letters saying, TOP SECRET. Mostly unimportant information, but players will pick up on the names of two islands off of the coast of Costa Rica, Isla Nublar (Site A) and Isla Sorna (Site B). In these documents there is also mention of the Jurassic Park Project.
A welcome letter from John Hammond himself is also included in the pack which talks a little about the project and what you’ll be doing. After logging in to the site, you are instructed to familiarize yourself with the employee interface as this is where you will do most of your work.
On your interface desktop, you will find a folder labeled TOP SECRET. Opening it, you will discover a document titled “Jurassic Park Project”. After reading you will realize that you will be helping to make dinosaurs. The first
puzzle assignment you will come across is recovering DNA from a mosquito trapped in amber. You control a robotic arm, by inputing command codes, that will drill into the amber to retrieve DNA. If you put in the wrong code, you could end up destroying your specimen. There are 10 levels, and each one is harder than the last. When you complete the assignment, you will receive achievement badges, “Extractor” for 5 levels and “Dino DNA” for completing all 10 levels.
Back on the home screen, you see several more assignments need to be completed, but only one is available; synthesizing the DNA you just recovered. Before you can proceed, a video clip plays that explains how InGen makes dinosaurs (see an abridged clip below):
Afterwards, you may start synthesizing the dinosaur DNA and filling in the missing code with frog DNA. After completing 10 levels you are awarded the badge “Baby Dinosaur”. If you complete all 25 you get the badge “Splice Master”. Now the rest of the jobs are available to do. Completing each will result in you receiving a badge and when all are done you are asked to verify your address. In a few weeks, you will receive a piece of amber with a fossilized mosquito in the mail.
Stage 3: Field Operations
Biosyn (www.biosyn.com), InGen’s rival company, plots to steal dinosaur embryos from the Jurassic Park Project. You are sent secret documents by an unknown source which mention a mole working for InGen as well as a meeting between the mole and Dr. Lewis Dodgson, Biosyn’s Head of Research. Your role in this has just changed from InGen geneticist to InGen spy. In cities around the world, certain players will participate in a dead drop experience in which they will have to hunt down possible moles in the company. Players will never encounter a mole, but they will uncover a Barbasol can that can be unscrewed. Inside, players will find 9 tiny vials with embryos. Embryos in the canister include:
- Tyrannosaurus Rex
Players will also find an envelope with access codes for the BioSyn website and instructions.
Use your InGen employee interface username and password to log into the site below and enter the BioSyn access code, also found below.
After completing the task a message appears on the screen
Keep the embryos safe. InGen is going to continue to search for the mole, we think they may strike again.
Players who complete the dead drop get a “Field Work” badge.
For players who were not able to participate in the dead drop experience, the first teaser for the movie is released on the InGen employee interface once all of the codes from the field have been entered.