UFO Unmasked? Marketing Campaign for Halo 3 or Terminator 3?
Further Update: the mysterious Morbus Iff brings this latest update... Where does he come from? Where does he go? Nobody knows for sure, but hey- he gave us this cool Sarah Connor Chronicles tie-in that postulates the drones' connection to a marketing campaign for Terminator 4. Was this the intention form the beginning., or was the imagery repurposed to fit the new project?:
The mystery over the origin of the 'CARET UFO Drone' photos has taken another interesting turn, with the mid-season finale of the television series Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (a spin-off of the successful Terminator movie franchise) featuring images of both the craft and the strange font/language used on them (and in the CARET schematics). Emps has more at Cabinet of Wonders, including video from the episode showing the craft (at the end of the clip).
Further update: 27.com (described in further detail below) got an update: a live chat-box, where visitors can discuss what they think is going on with this whole campaign, if that's what it is. Not being coy, one contributor asked:"06:55 lol: Are you a Halo 3 viral marketing campaign?"
Since it's anonymous and instantaneous, they can also discuss whatever they like, so be prepared for some four-letter words (and I don't mean "monk" or "goat")... I herein admit to going on the chatbox and pretending to be Megatron. I'm not really Megatron.
Meanwhile, the Halo 3/Adjudant Reflex mystery has come home in a big way to halo afficionado Michael Vanderzand, who finds himself embroiled in a full-on web-fuelled frenzy:
Michael VanderZand, a 20 year old marketing and advertising major at Grand Rapids Community College, has received hundreds of calls and text messages on his cell phone. Why? Apparently, “Adjutant Reflex”, the star of the marketing campaign, has been tied through rumors to a gamer profile on XBox.com. In this profile, there’s what appears to be a 10-digit phone number, with the last three digits replaced by XXX (This profile has been removed from the site). Since the last Halo ARG (I Love Bees), involved phone booths all over the country, fans assumed that something similar was going on.
So, in the true form of fans, they began calling all sorts of numbers that fit the redacted number. Imagine one fan’s surprise when he reached a strange voice mail recording made up of snippets from a Red vs. Blue episode. Unfortunately for VanderZand, a huge fan of the Red vs. Blue series, the voice mail was his.
Wednesday, after leaving his business ethics class, he realized that he’d missed dozens of cell phone calls. Then, he kept getting phone calls from area codes all over. He finally decided to answer a few of the calls. After several calls, he got someone to tell him how they got his number. “I end up telling the story to a guy in New York City who is on a 3-way conference call with his friend in California. So the three of us (East coast, West coast, Great Lakes) are trying to figure this whole thing out.”
Further update: Seems that the Halo/AR theory is spreading. Here is a concise timeline of AdjudantReflex's posts, and where they occurred, at least so far. Meanwhile, the meme continues here; warning: extremely (and, one hopes, intentionally) naff site design. The link in the very bottom paragraph is the one to click.
(Funny how "click" is now a common;y-used verb, when once it was only an onomatopoeia)
Update -- other news agencies are starting to pick up on this. We scooped 'em, though....
Intrepid netizen Morbus Iff put us onto this one... recently, NowPublic readers and contributors have noticed several UFO postings on this site. Indeed, danb never claimed that these images were of extraterrestrials per se, but of flying objects that were, well, unidentified. There is heavy speculation in ARG (Alternate-Reality Games) forums that these photos are of a CGI (computer-generated image) spaceship over a real-world background as part of a web-based viral marketing campaign for the upcoming video game Halo 3:
People have been mentioning that they received an email that pointed them to www.27.com what appears to be the homepage of a little girl. But on closer inspection, the background holds this image:
^ It looks quite suspiscious, and also it's called 'ar.jpg' and our little anti-hostile friend over at bungie is called AdjutantReflex
Alternate-reality gaming involves a blurred line between the physical and online worlds, with website-based clues and puzzles linking to real-world objects and additional clues, finally resulting in the solving of a larger puzzle. As such, these forums are ideal breeding grounds for viral ad campaigns. Most recently, we've seen such a campaign for Nine Inch Nails' Year Zero album.
27.com appears to be a hastily-constructed homepage run by a young (or young-at-heart) girl, complete with Hello Kitty imagery. A glance at the html code behind the page shows a crude code structure with some cute misspellings.
Using the Firefox browser, I went to the site mentioned above and clicked on View -> Page Source, and saw that the background was a file called "ar.jpg". When I entered 27.com/ar.jpg, lo and behold, up came a hazy but unmistakable image of a detail of the ubiquitous UFO's wing; that image is over to the right. Many of you have already leapt ahead, linking ar.jpg" to AR: Adjudant Reflex. That is the basis of the theory that theseUFO images were seeded on the Internet to promote Halo 3.
Here is a clearer comparison; I use the term "clear" in a thematic sense. As I edit this article, Morbus has alerted me to a new posting by Adjudant Reflex, this time on a Halo forum. The comment "The first seeds are scattered" would seem to refer to the viral emails mentioned above, and are being enthusiastically discussed in Bungie's forums.
Morbus tells me that such a stunt has been pulled off before, in connection with the previous Bungie title, Halo 2. The earlier campaign hinged around a "Hostile AI (Artificial Intelligence)" that took over a beekeeping site called ilovebees.com. If you just clicked that, you'll see that it does not look like a normal beekeeping site... the supposed webmaster, "Dana" turned to the online gaming forums for help with this unpleasant presence in her corner of the web.
Of course, one must be wary of the Random Speculation Monster...
In a way, this reminds me of a classic Simpsons episode:
Lisa Simpson wants to stop a huge mall development from proceeding at "Sabertooth Ravine" because the ravine is a fossil site. As a compromise, the mall developers decide to let Lisa dig for fossils while they continue to build the mall. While digging, Lisa finds an almost human fossil. Almost, but not quite: in place of arms the fossil has wings. "It's an angel" declare the naive and religiously motivated townfolk. Lisa, who plays the scientific naturalist, will have none of it. She therefore enlists [scientist Stephen Jay] Gould to prove that the fossil is nothing of the sort. Gould claims that the DNA tests he performed proved inconclusive.
Meanwhile, Lisa's father, Homer, takes the angel fossil, and charges admission to his house for people to view it. Homer sets the angel fossil under some fuzzy dice, and surrounds it with cheesy Christmas lights. He also sells various angel paraphernalia (e.g., angel ashtrays). Lisa meanwhile is getting exasperated that the entire town is believing in a supernatural origin of the angel. She therefore sets out to destroy the angel, but on entering the garage where Homer stores the angel finds it missing.
Upon discovering the angel missing and Lisa with a crowbar, the angry townspeople accuse Lisa of destroying it (and that for the sake of science), arrest Lisa, and put her on trial (a clear allusion to the Scopes trial). With the angel missing and the "scientific naturalist" Lisa under arrest, the religious fanatic Ned Flanders inveighs against science likening it to a guy who tells you the end of a movie before you've finished seeing it. At this, the townspeople run amock and destroy Gould's natural history museum and all other symbols of science (as they destroy a robotics lab, a robot exits the burning lab and screams "Why was I programmed to experience pain?").
Finally, Lisa is brought to trial. The judge says that the trial will decide two things, Lisa's fate and the relation between science and religion. As for the relation between science and religion, the judge decides to put a "restraining order on religion" keeping it "500 yards away from science" (note that it is religion that is expected to stay away from science and not vice versa). Just as the trial gets under way, however, the angel fossil is spotted on the top of a hill, though now it is inscribed with the words "The End Will Be At Sundown." The mood in the town now becomes that of a Jehovah's Witness gathering waiting for the Second Coming.
Finally, sundown arrives. At first nothing happens. Then suddenly the angel fossil levitates, and a voice booms claiming the end has arrived. The end of what? Why, the end of "high prices"! It turns out the angel fossil was a fraud perpetrated by the mall developers who used the fossil as a publicity stunt. Are the townspeople upset about the way this stunt flouted their religious sensibilities? Not at all. For the publicity stunt marks the grand opening of the mall, together with 20% savings on all items sold. Thus we see the townspeople, who just moments ago were awaiting the end of the world, rushing madly to a shopping frenzy.