Holy Viral Marketing, Batman!

Studio 360

Artwork from "Batman" viral marketing campaign.

When a Hollywood studio wants to generate buzz for a blockbuster, TV ads and billboards don't cut it. The folks behind "Batman: The Dark Knight" (opening July 18th) took a sneakier route: Viral marketing. "Studio 360's" Eric Molinsky was a recent target when he stumbled onto a website with a political ad for Harvey Dent, district attorney.

Unless you're a fairly devoted Batman fan, you don't know that Harvey Dent is "Two Face," a villian in the Batman series.

Molinsky was so impressed by the "Batman" viral marketing that he decided to delve a little deeper. He looks into the very viral "Obama girl," and talks to the creators of the "Batman" campaign.

Joe DiNunzio runs the agency behind the "Batman" campaign, 42 Entertainment -- he's responsible for unleashing the Batman virus on to the world, but he's squeamish about the term "viral marketing." He prefers "alternative reality game."

"If you're engaged, and you share your creativity and passion with someone else, that's a much more powerful message than anything that we can ever do. So really what we've done is we've activated you, we've given you the framework, but the communities we see building around what we do is really are activated, controlled, owned and driven by the audience themselves."

Media critic Douglas Rushkoff doesn't buy it: "... really what it is, is just a way to furhter target, isolate, and alienate an individual so you can communicate with them more effectively."

PRI's Peabody Award-winning "Studio 360 with Kurt Andersen" from WNYC is public radio's smart and surprising guide to what's happening in pop culture and the arts. Each week, Kurt Andersen introduces you to the people who are creating and shaping our culture. Life is busy — so let "Studio 360" steer you to the must-see movie this weekend, the next book for your nightstand, or the song that will change your life.

More PRI's "Studio 360"