To promote its new computer hacker drama “Mr. Robot”, which premiered on March 17, 2015 at the SXSW Film Festival, USA Network deployed a group of “hackers”, men dressed in black “Mr. Robot” hoodies and black sunglasses, to infiltrate the festival for an interactive social viral activation. The hackers handed out white cards to the festival crowd, which could earn free food by following the instructions on the card.
— Stephanie (@PromoDivaSteph) March 16, 2015
— Dara Kerr (@darakerr) March 15, 2015
The white cards told the festival-goers to open the official SXSW GO mobile app and turn on their Bluetooth. They then received a push notification from “Mr. Robot” that challenged them to find another hacker at participating SouthBites food trucks, the Hideout Coffeehouse or Stephen F’s Bar & Terrace. For an immediate reward, the white cards also challenged the attendees to take a selfie with one of the hackers, which earned them a black card. The black cards are vouchers worth $10 that were redeemable at the same venues.
— Rami Malek Online (@RamiMalekOnline) March 15, 2015
The activation quickly went viral, as lots of SXSW attendees were sharing pictures of the white and black cards as well as their selfies with the hackers and the hashtag #MrRobot, wondering who “Mr. Robot” is.
Besides the outdoor campaign at the SXSW, USA Network launched the mysterious website WhoIsMrRobot.com in mid-March 2015. When opening the code-style website, users are simply asked if they want to know a secret.
When answering the question with “yes”, a short video starts playing. In the video, a voice talks about a secret conspiracy involving a powerful group of people that is secretly running the world.
On the next screen, users are greeted by a “Mr. Robot” and asked if they want to join him and the #fsociety in the fight against the powerful corporate masters. Users can enter their Email address for future updates.
Users around the web having discovered the website expressed their confusion about “Mr. Robot” and the #fsociety as there are no references to USA Network and the actual purpose of the website.
— Mr. Robot (@whoismrrobot) March 20, 2015
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