The leaves have fallen from the trees and winter is on the way and here I sit at my computer with chills running down my spine. Not from the cold but from the possibilities that one of Google’s latest announcements could have on the field of marketing and public relations.
Endgame: The Calling is a series of sci-fi novels being written by author James Frey and a project that he has challenged Google’s off-shoot company, Niantic Labs to help turn into a marketing juggernaut. Their goal is to turn this story about 12 teenagers that compete from around the globe in a high-stakes competition; into the starting point for something amazing. John Hanke, the head of Niantic Labs, goes on to explain:
Frey’s vision was to do this as a book and game and a movie all together, and to use social media as a way to extend the universe and make it a place where people could really live within the game universe. He had this whole thing conceived of as a never-before-done experience across all these media.
To understand how they could accomplish this we have to look back a few years to Niantic Labs last project, Ingress. Ingress was created as a real world battle between factions to control portals in cities across the globe. People chose their faction, met their new community and worked together to go out into the real world to participate in a giant global game unlike any other before it.
So imagine this global game structure used for other marketing campaigns. Suddenly, CNN could have a real-life political map where voters showed their political pride in real-time during election campaigns; or if this were indeed Game of Thrones, each viewer could participate and claim global territory in the name of the Starks, the Lannisters or even in the name of Hodor himself.
Now we up the ante and take that to the next level. This is where Endgame comes in, incorporating a physical product (the series of novels or their Lost-inspired website) into the mix. Suddenly, your participation in the real world event takes on a whole new meaning. You could influence the future of the stories themselves. A few flash mobs of support and through community participation an army rises up to support someone the author never intended to be popular and change the lore of the brands universe and story.
Popularity wins and now Hodor takes his place on the Iron Throne in a live performance streamed across the game in real-time; only to have another faction assemble en-masse to try to ruin the event with a spur of the moment community planned and funded Red Wedding event. Reality and fiction finally blend together with paid and organic promotional marketing.
And behind the scenes the marketing team watches it all in real time. They can visually see the communities within their brand, how those communities have formed over time and where they’ll be in the near future. They can tailor the brands message, create new products that cater to the popular communities and their victories while adjusting future campaigns and plans in real-time.
This is what Endgame and Google hope to accomplish; with movies, novellas and the trilogy of books all working together to give its players competitions for cash prizes of real gold. A game that could connect billions of potential players with their high-tech devices, allowing them to shape the global game.
So can you see the possibilities that it can be used for in the field of marketing? I can. Who needs to wait for Khaleesi’s dragons when you have the strength of Hodor’s community that can band together and take the Iron Throne before she crosses the ocean. Let your voice be heard and comment below on how you’d use this technology!