Super 8 Interactive Trailer


In Media Work we examine how “advertising and technology are interdependent” (Deuze, 2007, p. 124)and how as technology and social trends have evolved hand in hand, so too must the approach to advertising. This made me think back to an interactive teaser trailer I had playedfor Super 8, J.J. Abrams’ summer blockbuster.

Abrams has garnered somewhat of a reputation for different approaches to marketing his films, having used viral marketing campaigns and Alternate Reality Games in the past. What was interesting for me was that the interactive trailer was not announced but was tucked away inside the “Extras” menu for Valve’s smash hit Portal 2. Naturally it was not long before the Easter egg (as these hidden surprises are often called within games) was found and went viral but the viral element is not what interests me, rather the medium they used to do it. Instead of creating a full movie tie-in game, the usual approach to generating extra publicity for a film (as well as an extra revenue source) the producers/director of Super 8 had decided to use an interactive medium to allow the audience to experience an element of the movie first hand before it was released.

The reaction from Portal 2 players on the Steam forums (Valve’s digital distribution and game community network) was also interesting:

“What I think is more important here is to ask the question “Why is it in here?”. Speculation aside it’s a direct hook to a movie company with writers who Valve has professed admiration of. So Valve basically makes a in-game trailer…first time they’ve ever done this…this means more (I think) than just the demo itself.” (FuzzDad, 2011)

While in-game advertising has been around for quite some time in terms of product placement, this is the first time to my knowledge that this interactive trailer approach has been used. Adopting an interactive experience, the campaign takes on a “show don’t tell” approach harnessing the potential for engagement generated by the interactive nature of video games that could arguably be seen as acknowledging and addressing the media literate generations of the 1980’s and 1990’s who are “less likely to buy in to what marketers and advertisers are trying to tell them” (Deuze, 2007, p. 126).

– Craig Harkness

Deuze, M. (2007). Media Work. Malden, MA, USA: Polity Press.

FuzzDad. (2011, April 18). Super 8 Demo Thread Discuss! Retrieved October 17, 2011, from Steam Users’ Forums:




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