As we reported yesterday, Surrogates opened this weekend to poor results, despite my glowing review. One of the points I brought up was how Disney/Touchstone Pictures dropped the ball in terms of marketing. Obviously the awareness of the film was low, and there are many things that contributed to that. However, I think more attention to their viral campaign (if we can even call it that) could have made a difference. Here is my review for Surrogates’ viral campaign.
The viral campaign for Surrogates began and ended with only one website, ChooseYourSurrogate.com, created by the digital creative agency The Visionaire Group. The site started as a direct homepage for Virtual Self Industries (VSI), the company that manufacturers and sells the surrogates we see in the film. Although the main page was converted to the film’s official website during the summer, you can still find VSI’s homepage here. The page isn’t too complex, just going over the general concept of surrogacy, and giving a nice simple tour of VSI. It’s well designed and very futuristic. It looks extremely authentic to the film.
Like I said, the direct link turned into the official’s homepage, so some of the fun went out the door right there. It also doesn’t help that the site was barely updated no other websites were created. From the looks of things, Disney created the one page and called it a night. This is not uncommon, as we saw Angels & Demons only have one viral web page. What is upsetting in regards to Surrogates in particular is that there was so much potential for viral content.
Surrogates has lot of backstory that it has to glance over in the film. A full-fledged viral campaign would have been a great opportunity to explore the history that led up to surrogacy being common place. The alternative history of the anti-surrogacy groups would be even more interesting. I could easily see the interaction between VSI and the dreads (as the groups are called) being as captivating as the Tidowave-Tagruato relationship from the Cloverfield viral or the Christopher-MNU relationship in the District 9 campaign.
Sure, the marketing for the film included creepy/captivating posters and images, not to mention a random fake newspaper article/ad in the UK, but one of the biggest mistakes Disney made was Comic-Con. They poored all their money and resources into the Tron: Legacy events, but didn’t do a single thing for Surrogates. They could have at least had a VSI booth or something!
In the end, only one cool website and failed oppurtunities doomed the Surrogates viral campaign and ultimately the film itself.
Final Grade: C-
Surrogates is in theaters now. For more information on the film and it’s viral campaign, click here.