A video of a supposed assassination attempt in Russia pops up on YouTube and clocks over 400,000 views and 1,500+ comments in under a week. The info directs viewers to MIR-12, a shadowy organization bent on uncovering a deeply rooted Russian conspiracy they claim began in the 1950s. Turns out Natasha Norvikov, the fallen would-be assassin, was a member of MIR-12, and the site’s blog promises us that her death will not be in vain; the terrifying truth of the conspiracy will be exposed. Soon, a new video appears on the MIR-12 site, replete with stories of mysterious deaths and a secret Russian island with unstable radiation levels and the ability to disappear completely.
Either Russia really is running nefarious energy experiments and flirting dangerously with the space time continuum, and the only people capable of uncovering it are a covert group of operatives who like to Twitter, or…something viral is afoot. And Netizens are picking up the scent.
In fact, as blog dosdotzero uncovered via some pretty nifty detective work, this is all a campaign for Activision’s new first-person shooter game Singularity, steered by ad agency DDB and video-seeding maestros Feed Company. The intrepid forum posters at Unfiction have uncovered even more content, including Flickr and Facebook accounts for Natasha. They also found another site, named Katorga 12 after the creepy island in question (and the in-game, tell-all book of the same name, whose author was killed under suspicious circumstances), which turns out to be the home of the Singularity trailer. Ah, yes, it’s all coming together.
Adding to the depth of content are nice little touches like Natasha’s Facebook friend, Emily, corresponding with curious online sleuths, and alxnder12, the YouTube poster of the assassination video, adding as “Favorites” actual Russian news stories that might catch the eye of an international conspiracy theorist. Yes, critics are already cropping up and taking swipes at the original video’s production values, the shakiness of some of the Russian translations, and the unlikelihood of anything very terrible happening with Einsteinium (the ominously referenced Element 99), no matter how far amok scientists might run with it. And sure, when you’re promoting a shooter, sooner or later you’re going go have to step away from the backstory and show some, you know, shooting. But these are still early days, and so far, this seems to be a pretty well-orchestrated campaign that’s already doing what it’s supposed to do: It’s got people talking.
Stay tuned. And keep an eye out for mad Russian scientists. Just in case.