J.J. Abrams Is Up to His Old Tricks With New ‘10 Cloverfield Lane’ Viral Campaign
J.J. Abrams is a fine filmmaker, but he might be an even better huckster. It wasn’t too long ago that Rolling Stone declared him to be “this generation’s P.T. Barnum,” praising the man’s unique talent for creating mystery around a project and generating buzz. He turned Star Wars: The Force Awakens into the can’t-miss cinematic event of a year that had already produced three of the ten highest-earning movies of all time. As the producer of Matt Reeves’ Cloverfield, Abrams took it upon himself to facilitate the creation of an ‘alternate-reality game’ that led determined fans to tantalizing new tidbits attached to the film. And it seems that now, Abrams is up to his old tricks.
The public was taken by surprise when the trailer for an apparent spin-off called 10 Cloverfield Lane appeared as if from nowhere last month, and now Abrams has thickened the mystery once again. Abrams stoked anticipation for Cloverfield with a website representing the fictitious drilling company Tagruato promoting Slusho, their soft drink made from nectar found in seabeds. The site fell into disuse after the film premiered in theaters, as is normal with promotional web sites, but now it’s been reactivated to hype 10 Cloverfield Lane.
As noted by Slashfilm, those users originally subscribed to the older Cloverfield materials received an email from Tagruato informing them that the account was no longer operative, though the highlighted-orange timestamp tells a different story. Nobody reactivates a web site and draws special attention to the fact that it is current if they don’t want people looking at it. To complicate matters even further, a can of a drink called Swamp Pop — suspiciously similar to Slusho! — appeared in the trailer, posing the question of a possible relation between the two of them. (Swamp Pop, it bears mentioning, is a real thing. Reportedly new orders of the soda come with a puzzle piece, similar to the puzzle played in the film’s trailer.) What this all mean will only be clarified when the movie gets here next month, but for now, the game is afoot.
10 Cloverfield Lane opens in theaters on March 11.