The original Batman film from 1989 was a critical and commercial success. In particular, Jack Nicholson’s portrayal of Batman nemesis The Joker, as well as director Tim Burton’s efforts were particularly praised. So when it was announced that the Batman series reboot would again feature The Joker in 2008’s The Dark Knight, many fans were rightly skeptical of actor Heath Ledger’s ability to match the performance that Jack Nicholson had brought to the character two decades before.
Ledger proved up to the task, not only meeting but surpassing the work of the screen legend Nicholson. Ledger’s performance of The Joker was simply a masterwork, his work dominated the film and made you believe you were actually watching an insane serial killer. Ledger was that scary good:
As it turns out, the marketing for The Dark Knight was scary good as well. I wrote about one aspect of the film’s phenomenal marketing campaign in my book Think Like a Rock Star:
Sometimes the best marketing doesn’t ‘look’ like marketing at all. When Warner Bros. was promoting the movie The Dark Knight, it put together all the standard online and offline marketing promotions that you would expect to see for a summer blockbuster. But the marketing campaign for The Dark Knight also had an element of ‘fun’ to it. Warner Bros. created an elaborate online marketing campaign, one element of which required you to ‘decode’ online websites that tied into the movie. If you were the first person from your area to decipher the website, you would be given the address of a local bakery that was holding a cake for you to pick up under the name Robbin Banks (robbin’ banks, get it?). When you received the cake, the icing said ‘Call Me Now’ and included a phone number. If you dialed the number, the cake itself started ringing! Inside the cake there was a packet containing a cell phone and other items from the company Rent A Clown, apparently set up by Batman’s arch-enemy in the movie, The Joker! Campaigns such as this were great fun for fans of The Dark Knight, and helped create a lot of extra buzz around the film.
Here’s the cake that you received for solving the puzzle:
Keep in mind this was done in 2008, just as YouTube was starting to take off, so The Dark Knight was one of the first films to really leverage UGC to help virally promote the film online. Also note that such a campaign isn’t aimed at casual fans of the franchise, but rather at fans that were already invested in the film as soon as it was announced. These fans are more loyal to the film and loved the idea of ‘solving a riddle’ to figure out the online puzzle, then to get the reward of getting the cake AND the phone and materials inside. The marketing is giving an incentive to the winner of the puzzle to promote the film even further. If you won one of these cakes, you wanted to brag about it, you wanted to share with your friends on social media, which simply leads to more promotion of the film, for free!
If you somehow haven’t seen The Dark Knight yet, please watch it ASAP. Heath Ledger died during the filming of The Dark Knight and this film left the world with a complete understanding of what a brilliant talent he truly was.