I’ve been receiving strange emails the last few weeks, talking of a mystery and sending me to www.TheMuckleMan.com. The site is an online puzzle, with a grid of squares that link to various news reports across the web and the MySpace blog of Gilbert, a marine biologist researching giant squid in Newfoundland.
(Incidentally, Gilbert seems to have great taste in music. His first two blog entries point to the new Killers album and “Oh No” by OK Go.)
Yesterday’s post from Gilbert tells us that a terrible accident has happened, that a child has been lost at sea.
Of course this is a promotional campaign. The event is City Theatre’s upcoming production of “The Muckle Man,” opening in late January 2007.
January 25, February 18, 2007
The Muckle Man
Strange things rise to the surface in this mysterious thriller
In the deep waters of isolated Conception Bay, Newfoundland, marine biologist Addison Clarke searches for the elusive giant squid, the ocean’s “red ghost,” intent on solving its mysteries. On dry land, Clarke’s wife, Marina, chases a mystery of her own when she rescues a stranger who emerges from the surf. As the natural world is thrown off balance, what surfaces is a mystical tale of the sea and its secrets. Currents of pop culture, contemporary science, and ancient folklore run through this chilling edge-of-your-seat thriller.
The emails and site remind me of the website for the original “Blair Witch Project,” although that campaign was more hidden about its origins — at first, the Blair Witch materials seemed as though they could be real. In this case, I’ve already received information about City Theatre’s current season and knew “The Muckle Man” would be opening in January. Plus, the site and related materials are quite polished.
I think the lack of mystery is fine: The campaign builds up a sense of anticipation for the play, and creates an air of creepiness that suits the play’s premise.
I like the puzzles the site poses — a new puzzle each week, requiring one to read (or skim) the articles and answer a simple question. Just enough involvement to create interest, not enough to annoy a busy person. I’m not sure what happens if you get all the questions right; I found and sent in the answer to week 3, but I’m sure I wasn’t the first to do so.
In all, it’s an engaging campaign to build interest in a new, never-before-seen play.