Warner Brothers' Viral Marketing Strategy - The 'Dark Knight' Campaign

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This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.

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Case Details:


Case Code : MKTG224 For delivery in electronic format: Rs. 400;
For delivery through courier (within India): Rs. 400 + Shipping & Handling Charges extra


Marketing Communications / Advertising
Case Length : 22 Pages
Period : 2007-2008
Pub Date : 2009
Teaching Note : Not Available
Organization : Warner Brothers
Industry : Entertainment
Countries : USA


The case focuses on the alternate reality game (ARG) 'Why So Serious? The Dark Knight', by Warner Brothers to promote the Batman film - The Dark Knight. The campaign was launched around 15 months prior to the release of the film and witnessed participation from millions of enthusiasts from across the world. The campaign revolved around 'The Joker' one of the characters of the movie, and was set in the fictional Gotham city. The underlying theme of the movie Good Vs Evil was very much evident all throughout the campaign.

The campaign started with some teasers followed by campaign for the district attorney of Gotham City in which Harvey Dent was contesting.

Marketing Management Case Studies | Case Study in Management, Operations, Strategies, Marketing Management, Case Studies

The introduction of The Joker followed quickly, and from then on, the participants were engaged in games and scavenger hunts through clues and were also rewarded from time to time, not only materially, but also in the form of posters, teaser trailers, memorabilia, participation in the events related to the movie, and finally tickets to the movie. These activities helped in sustaining the interest of the audience in the movie and also in the ARG.

The ARG was highly successful and helped in establishing connection between the previous Batman movie, Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. The campaign ended from where the film took off. The success of any ARG is measured through user content and the Dark Knight ARG resulted in thousands of blog posts, Google searches, websites and participants. The success of ARG translated into the success of the film, and it went on to become one of the few films to gross over US$ 1 billion in box office collections.


Understand the emerging trends in advertising in a web-enabled world.

Evaluate the use of ARG as a promotion and advertising tool.

Analyze the pros and cons of using ARG for marketing.

Examine how ARGs can be used as an audience engagement tool.


  Page No.
Introduction 1
The Beginning 2
The Scavenger Hunt 3
The Campaign Takes a Turn 5
The Joker Returns 5
The End Game 7
Behind the Curtains 7
The Result 11
Exhibits 13


The Dark Knight, Warner Brothers, Viral Marketing, Alternate Reality Gaming, Why So Serious?, Advertising Strategy, Promotional Strategy, The Gotham Times, The Joker, Harvey Dent, Batman Movie, Interactive Marketing, Astro Turf marketing, Anti-broadcasting marketing, Web 2.0, Batman Begins, 42 Entertainment, Scavenger Hunt, The HaHaHa Times, Bloggers, Audience Engagement, Heath Ledger

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