Audience participation with the message has come a long way since the Blair Witch Project. So much that people have developed a cynical radar for such plots. Part of this “puzzle” is also people trying to find out who is really behind the piece. lonelygirl15 is a cultural phenom showing how Malcom Gladwell’s “Tipping point” philosophy manefests itself.
This has forced marketers to put extra care in developing strategies so that they either come clean and clear upfront or gamble brand equity away with real content that is ambiguous to the brand. Ford’s Bold Moves for example shows a company coming clean upfront revealing insider material that would never make it past normal corporate compliance.
The concept of alternative reality gaming has spawned up and has a pretty deep amount of subject matter experts out there around it. Groups such as the ARGN or Smirkboxare examples of communities dedicated to the development of viral games.
Companies seeking to unveil the truth about their culture, and the realities of working there are starting to take on this “MySpace” approach to their recruiting by creating company myspaces. The problem is, employment laws will have to change in order for this to truly be effective. Corporate compliance people are running for the fire alarms as we speak ;^)