Una extraña desaparición

 

El 21 de octubre de 1994 tres estudiantes de cine, Heather Donahue, Joshua Leonard y Michael Williams, se adentraron en un bosque de Maryland para filmar un documental sobre una leyenda local. Los tres desaparecieron sin dejar rastros. Un año después, la cámara con la que rodaron fue encontrada, mostrando los eventos que dieron lugar a su desaparición. Nunca se encontraron sus cuerpos.

La película fue comprada por la distribuidora Artisan Entertainment, que la estrenó el 30 de Junio de 1999 convirtiéndola, en poco tiempo, en una de las películas más taquilleras de la historia.

Meses antes del estreno la noticia del extraño origen de la película se filtró y fue largamente debatida en Internet en foros y sitios web especialmente dedicados al tema. Se discutía, sobre todo, si la historia era cierta o no.

La historia, por supuesto, era falsa. 

Fue el truco publicitario que idearon Eduardo Sánchez y Daniel Myrick (los guionistas y productores del film), para convertirla en el mayor suceso económico de la industria cinematográfica de todos los tiempos. The Blair Witch Project ingresó en el Libro Guinness de los Records al generar un ingreso de US$ 248.000.000, con una inversión inicial de los productores de apenas US$ 22.000. En otras palabras, por cada dólar invertido se generaron más de 10.000 dólares de ingresos. Interesante rentabilidad.

El engaño de los estudiantes desaparecidos, en realidad, tenía como objetivo servir como plataforma para la campaña de “marketing viral” (llamada así porque la información se propaga como un virus), más recordada y comentada en el mundo de los negocios.

Esa campaña consistió básicamente en crear los sitios web y salas de chat para que los pocos que habían oído de la historia (adelantada en un especial de televisión), pudieran debatirla. Además, los productores se encargaron de agregar combustible a la leyenda urbana que se cocinaba y alimentaron al grupo creciente de fans, inventando “pruebas” de la desaparición de los estudiantes, páginas de sus diarios y hasta entrevistas con la policía local. El rumor y el “boca a boca” (o “teclado a teclado”), se esparcieron como el fuego.

El clímax previo al estreno fue el acuerdo que los realizadores alcanzaron con el canal Sci-Fi para emitir un “documental” de una hora acerca de la controversia sobre la veracidad de la historia. No hacía falta nada más, antes del estreno había una legión de fanáticos y curiosos, ansiosos por ver la pelicula.

Las brujas no existen, el marketing sí

Películas de divulgación como “What the Bleep Do We Know?” o de autoayuda como “The Secret”, por nombrar sólo dos, siguieron un camino similar con altísimos niveles de éxito.

La fórmula básica es simple:

1-    Crear una historia con “appeal”, con atractivo, gancho. No necesariamente con elementos de misterio (aunque esto ayuda, obviamente), pero sí generar expectativa y suspenso a través de una liberación de información deliberadamente gradual.

2-    Focalizarse en una audiencia, un grupo que en principio puede ser pequeño, pero que se transforma en fiel seguidor de noticias acerca de la película, mucho antes de su estreno. Eventualmente este grupo “explota” en una audiencia de proporciones.

3-    Alimentar a ese grupo con dedicación en una especie de maratón de producción de información y contenidos, muy diferente de la publicidad tradicional. Hay un monitoreo permanente del grupo y su grado de interés y una retroalimentación incesante a través de toda la parafernalia de los nuevos medios de comunicación digitales.

Es bueno recordarlo: el “producto cultural”, en tanto que producto, debe promoverse si quiere ser vendido. ¡Auch!, a veces duele escuchar esto cuando uno es un artista, pero no por eso es menos cierto.  

(ésta es la primera parte de mi columna de Septiembre en Rosario Express, si te interesó aquí está la segunda parte

100 pensamientos sobre “Una extraña desaparición”

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