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Web | Promoting the End of the World Online

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2012 is the new movie from Roland Emmerich about the end of the world. It’s due for release in Australia on 12 November 2009. You can read about the movie and watch the trailer here.

But in this post I’m going to talk about the movie’s online presence, because one of the really fascinating things about 2012 is its online promotion. This movie has not one but eight websites, and with some really fun interactive content, as well as an interesting use of social media.

A lot of work has gone into “spilling” the film’s narrative into real life through the web. Of course, the film has an official movie site, but the remaining sites are for organisations and characters. You might recall the promotion for The Blair Witch Project, a groundbreaking campaign that unfolded the story on the internet before the release to give the impression that this mockumentary was actually based on real events.

The use of the web to promote 2012 is very similar, though less about creating an impression of reality and more about extending the experience of the movie to the net.

Anyway, without further ado, let’s take a look at the campaign.

Online promotion of 2012 movie

Official website


Here you’ll find everything you’d expect from a movie’s official site — trailers, cast and crew list, synopsis, galleries and a sample clip. What you’ll also find are three games.

The first game is a mulitple-choice survival test. You get given a life-and-death scenario and have to make a choice. Each right answer gets you closer to the survival base in … uhm … Tibet. Get one wrong and you lose a life, of which you have three.

There are also two iPhone app games.

Screenshot of Official 2012 Movie Site

Institute for Human Continuity


Welcome to the Institute for Human Continuity (IHC). It’s the government agency “dedicated to scientific research and public preparedness” for the apocalypse.

While the agency is part of the film world, the site has all the trappings of a real organisation’s website — an “About us” section, staff listing and press releases.

There *is* also some fun, interactive stuff. Three key things.

1. Disaster scenario simulations. This one’s for all the natural disaster junkies out there. There are three apocalyptic scenarios for planet Earth for you to play with. For example, you can alter the orbit of Planet X to create a collision or near collision with Earth, with varying impacts.

2. Vote for the leader of a post-2012 world. There are 11 real-world candidates for leadership of a post-apocalyptic world (they all look like they work for the IHC IT department). Watch their videos, read their profiles and cast your vote. The candidates were chosen out of a competition earlier this year, the rules of which are here. There are real prizes from Sony, including a trip to Mexico. No leadership tho. We’ll leave that to Obama.

There is also a lottery for you to enter to ensure your chance of survival, as well as some great visuals of the escape options (such as floating cities).

Online promotion of 2010 movie

And the IHC doesn’t stop there. It also has a Twitter account, Facebook group and, yes, a YouTube account.

Here’s one of their videos.

The whistleblower’s blog


Dr Soren Ulfert PhD *was* the Communications Director at IHC. That is until he quit … or was he fired? o.O

Dr Ulfert has a blog, where he’s keen to set the record straight.


And being a blogger au fait with social media, he has a Twitter account and YouTube account. Check out the video below.

Charlie Frost’s blog


Now, it wouldn’t be an apocalypse without at least one conspiracy theorist. Enter Charlie Frost. Woody Harrelson plays him in the movie and this is his blog, as if it was really written by the character. Like a good blogger, he’s there to uncover and publicise what’s really going on at the IHC.

2010 movie online promotion

Of course, Charlie is social media savvy too, with a Twitter account and … you guessed it …

Corruption Theory blog


A conspiracy theorist needs sources, and this is Charlie’s. It’s a “shadowy blog run by a shadowy person”. Said shadowy person was working at the IHC, uncovered evidence of rampant embezzlement or corruption at work, and was reassigned for asking too many questions.


Farewell Atlantis


Jackson Curtis (John Cusack) is the key character in 2012. Curtis is author of the book Farewell Atlantis. It’s his first sci-fi novel. You can download the first chapter, and read a synopsis and foreword from Nick Sagan (the very real-world novelist) on this website.


Jackson’s book has a fan page on Facebook, which is updated with regular status updates from Jackson.

Two more sites

To add just a little more credibility to the film’s online presence, two more smaller websites were created.

The first is this online news site.


The other is this research agency.


What do you think?

In addition to this there was a viral marketing campaign, chiefly to get contestants for the leadership election and to get discussion of the movie busy around YouTube.

My dear readers, because I feel a little overwhelmed covering all of this I won’t go into that aspect. And “overwhelmed” is the word. They have put a lot of work into moving the story into an online world, and I think it’s a really amazing step towards extending a film’s universe beyond the screen.

Question is, my droogs, is it all too much?


Written by Darren Smith

14 October 2009 at 11:19 pm

Posted in web

Tagged with , , ,

2 Responses

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  1. […] out onto the web. It’s so fascinating and big that I’ve dedicated another blog post to […]

  2. […] those who’ve escaped the epic promos, 2012 is a movie about the end of the world. It is the final year of the Mesoamerican calendar and, […]

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