"Don't turn away from your screen; they may already be watching. We like your type. You came to our attention while demonstrating your observational skills in finding what you need inside zone six, as well as having contacts further a field. In the next couple of days someone from our organisation will be in contact. If you don't hear from us by then, destroy all evidence of our correspondence. For now, it doesn't matter who we are, suffice to say we're a state-funded organisation interested in your skills."
The page had a hidden link on the word 'bright', which opened up a new window:
And so, the game was afoot.
A series of cryptic emails arrived in the following days, including one which said:
"Place the following message in a public communication to your comrades – dim3 ak7ion – this communication is sensitive, but shouldn't place you in direct danger."
This led us to make this post
which then led to another email saying that we'd been activated as an agent, with the code-name TrouinVI-302. There were a few more online hoops to jump through, and one offline one, where a classified ad was placed in the London Lite newspaper:
The phone number led to a strange voicemail with heavy breathing and a protracted scream, but that was a bit of a red herring, as the text 'B1-Lancer' was a password to the next area of the website. You were then asked to find images tagged with your agent name on a selection of photo sharing websites, and these images were tagged with URLs of Google maps, indicating a secret rendezvous for all the agents, in the vicinity of the Albert Memorial.
Agents were asked to turn up in shades and a hat, carrying a newspaper under their arm; and to wait for a man in a bowler hat, a tan mac and dark shoes. They were then to follow his every move.
So at this point, we were thinking, well, it's been fun, but what's going to happen now that we're switching to the real world? There was a lot of online chatter about who was behind the campaign, and after a little careful digging we worked out who was behind it all.
So we turned up, along with a gang* of 30 or so other bloggers, all looking a tad perplexed in shades and hats. After a brief while, the mysterious man showed up.
He led the group (at a brisk pace) on a brief walkabout through the streets of Kensington, eventually arriving at an imposing front door:
And so, the masterminds behind the game were revealed – the V&A
The whole thing was a rather brilliant word-of-mouth campaign, or alternate reality game
, from the folks at 1000 Heads
, who'd been working for the V&A to drum up a bit of noise about their new Cold War Modern
show (we'll be adding to that noise ourselves very shortly).
It's the first time the V&A has done something like this, so we expect they were feeling more than a tad nervous about how it might turn out. We thoroughly enjoyed the whole thing, which pulled in bloggers and got them playing on a dedicated site, on Twitter, on Facebook, on Google maps, on Flickr, and a host of other places; and it felt like it fitted in perfectly with the style of the exhibition.
*What is the collective noun for a group of bloggers? A fodder? A post? A smug? Or perhaps an obsession?