Despite Heath Ledger’s Death, Warner Bros. Presses on With Joker’s Viral Marketing For ‘The Dark Knight’

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CHICAGO – Once the swarm of sorrow hit the world on Jan. 22, 2008 following news of Heath Ledger’s death, questions soon ensued about its impact on Chris Nolan’s “The Dark Knight” and Terry Gilliam’s “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus”.

While the status of “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus” is entirely in limbo, “The Dark Knight” had completed filming and is in post-production. Still, followers wondered how Warner Bros. would tactfully react with its viral marketing and how it would advertise Ledger’s dark and crazed Joker character. just received an answer: the show is going on. Our repeatedly reliable source (who was awarded the cell phone-embedded cake in Chicago from a viral marketing effort) is back with new news from moments ago:

A viral marketing movie poster for The Dark Knight
A viral marketing movie
poster for “The Dark Knight”.
Image credit: IMDB

Good evening, Adam!

Chicago Joker phone here. I just got a text at 10:49 p.m. on the cake phone that said $30 was added to my account and the phone is now good until March 29, 2008.

After looking at the account information [from] the phone [that] was initially received in [Dec. 2007], I found the phones were set to expire tomorrow (Jan. 30, 2008). With the addition of the extra minutes, this means the viral campaign lives on despite the untimely death of Heath Ledger (may he rest in peace).

I have looked on message boards and several of the other cities have also confirmed that their phones have received extensions until the end of March.

I applaud Warner Bros. for continuing the marketing campaign and not letting the fans down. We all have the greatest respect for Mr. Ledger and I believe we all know how to separate the Joker character from Heath. I cannot wait for the next viral [campaign] to start. I will keep you updated as always. Thanks!

~ Vlkers54

3:25 p.m. update on Jan. 30, 2008: The source above just wrote back with another update. This information is from another informed Superhero! Hype message board member known as ianskyvox.

I just did a little bit of research [that] may shed some light on the scenario. Apparently whenever you add credit to pay-as-you-go phones with Verizon (such as these) the amount you add is good for two months.

Since we got the phones [on Dec. 4, 2007], they probably activated the accounts in late [Nov. 2007] so they could be shipped out and put in the cakes. Two months after that would be today (Jan. 29, 2008). Since the accounts were renewed today [on Jan. 29, 2008], they expire again on March 29, 2008 (in exactly two months).

There’s a possibility this is what was actually going to happen all along even if we hadn’t tragically lost our clown prince. This could even go on for months and months on end. [We could receive] another message on March 29, 2008 saying the accounts have been renewed again.

Our last [text] before this did say: “It’s time to be patient.”

Vlkers54 added: “It seems they might not have had a plan until after Jan. 30, 2008 to begin with. We will have to just be patient as [the Joker] has instructed us to be.” editor-in-chief Adam Fendelman

Editor-in-Chief's picture

Two months at a time

We have just updated this story with new information on pay-as-you-go phones and what we might expect from this viral campaign going forward.

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