The Museum of Hoaxes
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Godsend Institute, and other movie sites
image A few people have written to me about the Godsend Institute, which is supposedly a Massachusetts fertility clinic that offers human cloning as an option for its patients. Its website is quite slick and well produced, but the Godsend Institute is, of course, not real. The site is part of the advertising campaign for the upcoming movie Godsend starring Robert De Niro. Wired published an article about this yesterday. Ever since the Blair Witch Project succeeded in creating such a buzz five years ago with its companion website, movie studios have sought to repeat this trick by creating sites that try to convince websurfers that their fictional characters or companies are real. The site for the upcoming I, Robot, starring Will Smith, is a recent example. As is Lacuna, Inc., which is a fictitious company featured in The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. I would say the strategy is wearing a bit thin now because a) the sites usually aren't that believable (for instance, you can kind of recognize Robert De Niro on the Godsend Institute site, which blows the whole cover), and b) they're not that interesting even if you do believe they're real. They give surfers little to do or explore. The Blair Witch site worked not only because it suggested the witch was real, but also because it gave people lots of interesting background material on her to browse through. One recent studio-created site that did understand this was Kingdom Hospital (from the ABC miniseries). It didn't simply try to convince you that Kingdom Hospital was real. Creepy things also started to happen as you navigated around the site, which made it fun to explore.
AdvertisingBirth/BabiesEntertainmentWebsites
Posted by The Curator on Thu Apr 15, 2004
To the contrary, I think that it's absolutely impossible to recognise Robert DeNiro unless you slready know about the movie. Show the pics to a few people who know nothing about the movie. I doubt any of them will have a clue.
Posted by Jimmy Cokes  in  New York City  on  Thu Apr 15, 2004  at  03:58 PM
These aren't hoaxes; they're marketing strategies (maybe not much difference in some peoples' minds...)

You forgot to mention the biggest Internet marketing scheme of them all: the Microsoft-manufactured alternative world based on Stephen Spielberg's movie A.I.

An archive of the A.I. online game experience can be found at:
http://movies.groups.yahoo.com/group/cloudmakers-moderated/files/

Also, I think there was some kind of similar promotional for the 1997 future dystopia movie Gattaca, but I haven't found anything online for it.

Anne Wilson
Posted by Anne Wilson  on  Fri Apr 23, 2004  at  01:57 PM
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