Pod founder/creative director Steve Curran explains the motivation driving the campaign. “We tried to make something that appeals to somebody who’s already a fan, but that if they share it with a friend who might not necessarily be a fan, it’s got enough value in promoting the band just by showing who they are and what their attitude is. I think that anybody playing this game that wasn’t familiar with the Darkness would get a sense that it’s that hard rock with a sense of humor about it as well. That was what we went into this project determined to find: that right combination of hair band and humor.”
Humor aside, judging by initial tryouts, the One Way game is a lot harder than you’d think. Along with the Flash-aided design and .aiff sound files, Pod had Baker separate out individual tracks from sitar to lead guitar. According to Curran, the boys in the band were involved in the design process as well, especially singer Justin Hawkins. “They got to see the rough prototype and give back comments and feedback,” he says. “They actually got involved going back into the studio to separate out some elements. Justin also gave us some custom voice-overs that will get pulled randomly from a database. Depending on how you do, he has many different comments for a specific type of result, something specific to performance like, ‘That was bloody awful!'”
Just like previous Pod campaigns, the objectives are to avoid standard media buys and instead let the product spread through the online community, viral-style. “We try to build these things so we’re not beating you over the head with a marketing piece,” Curran says. “It’s something that we’ll provide to existing Darkness fan sites, music sites and game sites that make fun, interesting viral pieces available to their audience and let it spread from there.”
The campaign not only offers send-to-a-friend, blogging options, and a link to Amazon to purchase the record, but it also capitalizes on the hot trend of advergaming. At a time when more eyeballs are attuned to online gaming than ever before, Curran believes that The Darkness promotion is right on the mark. “Game-playing is severely cutting into the time that this generation watches television or reads newspapers and magazines,” he says. “If I can show that somebody in our demographic spent ten minutes playing a game and being exposed to the band The Darkness—having not previously been exposed to The Darkness—the value of that versus hoping that they click on a banner ad to go to a marketing website is completely different, especially with this demographic that’s growing up where gaming is second nature.”
Indeed, the One Way Ticket to Hell and Back game and album could open the eyes and ears, respectively, of a whole new audience. Curran hopes to keep the campaign live for 3-6 months; thereafter he’ll keep the game on the Pod site as a demonstration of the studio’s capabilities.
Whether or not we’re aching for a revival of falsetto vocals, platform shoes, tight pants, long hair and power chords, we’ve got one. But thanks to The Darkness, the ride to this inevitable hell will be both smooth and enjoyable.