Ads Target Tech-Savvy Gamers With Hidden Creative

I'm sometimes fluent in tech-speak, so I'm quasi-familiar with the term source code.

Simply put, it's a series of readable code, hidden beneath a Web page, allowing it to function properly.

PC users, for example, can view a site's source code by right-clicking on the site and selecting view page source.

The average Web surfer has no reason to check source code, something that Wieden+Kennedy Portland was counting on when it created a below-the-radar campaign for Electronic Arts' "Dante's Inferno" game.

The agency ran an online campaign on IGN, Daily Motion, Games Radar, WWE, Gamespot, Digg, Kotaku, DeadSpin, UGO and 1Up, targeting tech-savvy gamers.

The agency made a deal with sites running banner ads to include an extra piece of creative housed underneath the actual Web page.

ASCII art, or text-based art, shaped like game characters, was placed into source code. Banners looked standard upon initial view and additional code did not affect how the site functioned in any way.

Six different images were embedded into source code throughout the ten sites and embedded into the ASCII art was a secret URL,, and password. Since there are more sites than images, some creative ran on more than one site.

To advance further into, users needed six passwords, one from each different ASCII art graphic found online.

Once all passwords were successfully entered, users could download "Dante's Inferno" game music, a PDF of the concept art book, game-themed wallpapers and exclusive poster art.

Ads ran from Feb. 4-17, without any information that tipped gamers off about the hidden source code ads. Gamers had to know to look -- in six different places, no less. This was a scavenger hunt for techies, and you didn't have to leave your seat to participate!

More than 26,000 people visited the Web site, which received 61,000 download requests and more than 12,000 actual downloads. Wieden+Kennedy noted a brief site crash at the start of the campaign due to high traffic, allowing visitors to submit multiple download requests. If you want something badly enough...

4 comments about "Ads Target Tech-Savvy Gamers With Hidden Creative ".
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  1. Monica Bower from TERiX Computer Service, March 8, 2010 at 4:50 p.m.

    The Weiden+Kennedy campaign was actually something like nine months long; in fact if I'm not mistaken there was a case study about it linked on an article that ran a couple weeks ago perhaps - just after the game launched - on MediaPost. Or I found the link in a twitter post. Phenomenal amount of work and a surprisingly affordable final price tag that makes me want to look at Weiden + Kennedy a little more closely for future work.

  2. Thorsten Linz from FCB Chicago, March 9, 2010 at 6:55 a.m.

    Hi Monica, can you share the link to the case study please. @socialmediageek

  3. Amy Corr from MediaPost Communications, March 9, 2010 at 9:10 a.m.

    This campaign launched last month, on Feb. 4, just prior to the release date of Dante's Inferno: Feb. 9. 2010.

  4. Andrea Bridges-smith from Unicast, March 15, 2010 at 10:21 a.m.

    I thought this campaign was so clever and so well-executed. Sending the user on a "virtual scavenger hunt"--it doesn't get much more engaging than that! Here's why I think it worked so well:

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