Saturday, June 24, 2006

Ecko 1, Pentagon 0

Yeah that weird is what we got here ;-)

It used to be that the benchmark for a successful viral campaign was whether it came back to you in an email forward. Now, thanks to the combined efforts of David Droga and Smuggler Films, it's whether you can rouse the attention of the White House.

If you haven't yet seen the handheld film of a graffiti artist breaking into Andrews Air Force Base and tagging Air Force One, chances are you've heard about it in the news. So convincing and pervasive is the three-minute film that the mainstream media has taken to it like bloggers to a Bushism. In addition to "Did They Or Didn't They?"-type sequences on CNN, MSNBC and ABC, the story has been picked up by a reputed 17,000 individual news outlets. But the coup de grace for everyone involved has come in the form of not one but three official denials from none other than the Pentagon. "The level of media attention shocked us," says Droga. "Once it got to the White House, it took on a new life."

The first project to come out of Droga's brand new endeavor, Droga5, the video made for an ideal extension of the Ecko brand. According to director Randy Krallman, the spot posed some pretty major logistical challenges, the largest of which involved finding an old plane to repaint. "Getting a 747 that has engines on it is a big deal - they're either out of commission or [really expensive]," he says. Fortunately, luck was on their side, and within days, the crew found an old plane to scrub up. "It looked like Latvia Air or something, it was just this real Third World-looking jet," says Krallman. "You never would've stepped on this jet. But after a $150,000 paint job, it looked dead-on."

The next hurdle involved finding a way to make San Bernadino, California look like Andrews AFB, Maryland. For that, Krallman turned to the great oracle Google. "If you go on Google Earth you can see the whole layout of the base," he says. "I wanted the level of detail to hold up for someone who'd been there, and that was the high watermark we prepared for." According to the pundits at CNBC, he did a solid job. "One of their Pentagon correspondents was like, 'At least one of the shots in this is real because if you've been there as much as I have, you recognize that hangar'," laughs Krallman. "I was like, 'Fucking sweet!'"

For Droga, the success pales in comparison to what might have happened had the spot somehow gone wrong. "The lawyers made us put a disclaimer on the end, just so we didn't end up in Guantanamo Bay... I was nervous, to be absolutely honest. I thought, 'Holy crap, I'll be so annoyed if the first piece I do gets me in trouble'."

The Video

1 comment:

Dimitri said...

This is an absolutely fantastic example of viral marketing done par excellence!

Reminiscient of the furore around the pre-release of the "Blair Witch Project" with the whole - "is it or isnt real?" sentiment.