Cutout of the poster of ‘Batman: The Dark Knight’ (Photo: Warner Bros)
Taking a movie to success is not easy, and getting one of the dimensions of Batman: The Dark Knight, which in 2008 emerged as a one of the most acclaimed and successful superhero films of all time, much less. To achieve this, it was necessary to weave marketing strategies that were out of the ordinary, creative ideas that achieved public involvement, transferred the Gotham City universe to the real world and that motivated the world to come and see this work by Christopher Nolan.
Nokia and Warner Bros. Partnership
However, from Warner Bros. they aimed higher than usual, so much so that they even raised a terrorist alert that sowed panic in the newsroom of a media outlet and mobilized emergency services. Everything has its origin in a commercial agreement by Warner Bros. with Nokia, the mobile brand that emerged as the main sponsor of Batman: The Dark Knight.
According to what executives of the creative team of the marketing campaign told IGN, the study, beyond including Nokia phones in the film, agreed to expand the company’s presence in the different commercials and actions that were carried out, a detail that caught them off guard and for which they had to improvise a quick solution.
The Joker Promotion
Since Warner was interested in selling the Joker as one of the virtues of the sequel to Batman Begins, the creative process involved thinking of something that would refer to the great villain of Gotham. Thus, it occurred to them to bake cakes and hide mobile phones, notes, a letter from the Joker and several loose cables inside, as if it were a cake bomb created by the role of Heath Ledger.
Why So Serious?
The campaign was called Why so serious? (Why are you so serious?) in honor of one of the Joker’s lines in Batman: The Dark Knight, a quote that was also used in several of the promotional posters. In principle, the risk of thinking that it was a bomb cake, as all the utensils and decorations included in it pointed out, was zero, since all the people who came to ask for them did so with the information seen on the internet that it was a marketing action.
San Antonio Incident
However, given the success of this strategy, Warner, with a view to a more local promotion, agreed with the cinemas to send the cakes to the media, replacing the call for the IMAX prologue with information about the screenings in theaters. And there were those who did not understand what the matter was about. According to media outlets such as Chief Marketer, the Santikos movie theater chain, which operates in the San Antonio, Texas area, sent the cake to some 25 radio, television, and newspaper outlets.
Despite the risk of a misunderstanding, the San Antonio campaign went ahead. Unfortunately, the cake received at KENS TV5 was seen as a bomb threat, employees panicked and reached out to law enforcement. The building was evacuated, and the police, the fire department, and the anti-bomb squad were alerted and took over the newsroom to investigate the package.
Although it is a mere misunderstood publicity action, an event like this in the United States can have serious consequences for those responsible, which in this case were the theater chain and Warner Bros. However, once the investigation was completed and the objective and operation of the campaign discovered, the San Antonio authorities decided not to press charges.