Wednesday, February 28, 2007

NIN Believes The Truth Is Out There

Here is what we know:

It isn't 2007, it is -15 BA. The drug Parepin has been added to the water supply of Orlando to protect its citizens from bio-terriorism. In 2009, er...... -13 BA, the drug will be added to the water supplies of Los Angeles, and Anaheim. There is growing concern that the drug may have a sinister side-affect in that it is actually a tool for the government to control the minds of its citizens. This concern intensified with the cryptic auto-reply from

Thank you for your interest. It is now clear to me that Parepin is a completely safe and effective agent developed to protect us from bio-terrorism. The Administration is acting purely in the best interests of its citizens; to suggest otherwise was irresponsible and I deeply regret it.

I’m drinking the water. So should you.

The cocaine trade fell and was replaced with the drug Opal. Users have reported seeing The Presence while under the influence of Opal. They/we hope this is simply a drug-induced hallucination.

More sightings of The Presence. More questions about its true identity, and true intentions. Or if it even exists at all.

New information is coming in at all times, more clues, apparently someone is leaving USB drives with music and encrypted clues in random bathrooms across Europe. An online community has been created to track the locations, and share information on their findings.

If you're still with me, then you deserve to know what the hell the deal is. Fact is, I don't really know, other than this is actually one cool as shit online marketing/scavenger hunt designed to build buzz for Nine Inch Nail's next album, 'Year Zero.' YZ will be hitting stores in April, and it appears that this online game/story is building massive buzz for its release.

The whole party started when a NIN fan bought a tour shirt for the band's 2007 European tour, and realized that certain letters from the list of cities that NIN would be performing in, were bolded. He pieced them together to get iamtryingtobelieve. On a hunch, he added a .com and slipped down the rabbit hole to

From there, the auto-reply above was discovered. Next popped up the site there's a second picture. After you uncover it, then a link to more info will appear).

Now the offline element of the marketing plan comes into play. NIN is currently touring Europe, and at every stop, the marketing team behind this, 42 Entertainment (of 2 fame), is putting USB drives at some of the concert venues. These drives include songs from the Year Zero album, but also includes hints about additional sites, which of course lead to more clues to the overall story.

And of course, fans are mobilizing to help each other with the most up-to-date information. This site seems to be ground zero for discussing Year Zero, and all the madness that is unfolding (Rolling Stone also has some great background on the campaign). It has a literal up-to-the-minute account of exactly what is happening, with a special focus on breaking news about new USB drive discoveries.

A wiki has been set up. So has an IRC channel. Thinking of playing a joke and creating a hoax site made to look like it ties into the story? Don't. One such site has already been discovered, and the site's owner is said to have received 'something close to death threats.'

Want another example of how crazy this is getting? Yesterday NIN released a concert DVD entitled Beside You in Time. One NIN fan noticed that the Blue-Ray edition of the DVD had the words “Secure,” “Broadcast,” and “Informatics" on the back. He slapped a .com on the end, and discovered that, sure enough, was the latest piece of the puzzle. So far, another 'newer' website has been discovered hidden in that one. There could be more, who the hell knows.

Admittedly, I'm not a NIN fan, but this scavenger hunt/puzzle-solving/online game has got me hooked. If I suddenly stop blogging for a while, it may be because I've slipped down the rabbit-hole myself.

Maybe you should join me?

Technorati Tags:
, , ,


Anonymous said...

I don't think I quite get it just yet, but this seems like a very cool idea; a perfect example of engaging fans and giving them collateral to spread the word.

As a NIN fan, I'm sure I'll end up in the rabbit hole myself at some point.

Mack Collier said...

Jordan I think it's going to be interesting to see where the fans take this. Will they continue to create 'fake' sites and try to incorporate their ideas into the story? Or will most of them act as 'Filters'(from Citizen Marketers fame) to collect and process the latest information?

And what tricks does NIN and 42 Entertainment have planned next?

Anonymous said...

Hurray for rabbit holes- and bands that understand immersive experiences!

Anonymous said...

This is such a cool story. You really need a committed community to pull somehing like this off (clearly NIN has one).

Brands out there should take a lesson from this.

Anonymous said...

Love this! Thanks Mack.

I love seeing something of this scale being pulled off. The planning and time it took in advance is daunting to witness.

I wish we could get some results from these campaigns as that would be awesome to know.

Richard said...

What a cool idea. Setting up an interactive "detective" story seems like a great way to create buzz. Really like it.

Anonymous said...

Mack, thanks for sharing this. Really ambitious for a record release. Sounds a lot like that the LOST gang started last season with websites, blogs, toll free numbers, TV commercials (all fake).
This stuff is bigger than "marketing". It's really engaging content. In some ways, it can be more engaging that the product itself. You may not like the music, but everyone likes a good mystery-conspiracy-theory-treasure-hunt.