Operation Red Sting
Norway is the only market where Urge still exists, and Norwegians seem to love it. The brand has a long history of loyal users and a high liking in social media.
In 2010 our mission from the Coca Cola Company and Initiative Universal Media was: Launch a new energy drink called Urge Intense Red Sting. Do it by involving our current fans. Do not use any traditional media. The goal: Enforce Urge Intense' standing in the snow-, skate- and hip hop segment.
We said; Let us engage, entertain and play together with all the people who already love Urge. We made an Alternate Reality Game called "Operation Red Sting".
Two months before launching the game, we created the Norwegian Umbralic, a long dormant organization with a new found mission to ban skating, hip hop and literally anything our potential players loved. Soon thousands of people were fighting against our bad guys - not knowing it was all fiction.
Meanwhile, reports came from different sources that previously active young people were slowly losing all their energy, and going into a zombie-like state all over Norway. Researchers discovered that the source of the pandemic was a small, red mosquito.
"Let us engage, entertain and play together with all the people who already love Urge"
A group of anonymous activists, Team Red Sting, claimed that the mosquito was a weapon, made by the Umbralic, to pacify potential young rebels with high levels of adrenalin. To resist the symptoms of the mosquito, they produced an antidote - Urge Intense Red Sting. The members recruited by Red Sting were the players of the game. To solve their missions the players had to spend hours doing research, cracking codes, hacking websites and looking for treasures and evidence.
The players collectively worked to solve all the missions. A lot of them posted videos showing the effect of the antidote. The inbox of the Umbralic filled up with hate mail - and membership applications from clever players trying to infiltrate the organization.
The history was kept realistic by involving scientists and historians in writing the script. We cooperated with niche sites like Tacky, Kingsize and Fri Flyt, and several key people in the skate and hip hop scenes where 'in' on the hoax. The popular hip hop artists Lars Vaular and Nasty Kutt launched an exclusive single related to the game. Many popular brands supplied Team Red Sting with rewards.
The game lasted one month. Fifty thousand people spent on average twenty-one minutes on-site. Two out of three players tasted the drink during the game. Most new soft drinks fail within the first year. In 2011 Urge Intense Red Sting is still on the shelves. But only in Norway.
Laser focused and addictive
Operation Red Sting was awarded bronze in the Norwegian contest Gulltaggen, and the jury made the following statement:
"Operation Red Sting is a comprehensive and ambitious Alternate Reality Game, and has strongly engaged within a cleary defined target group. An intelligent storyline, the use of well known people, and creative involvement by leading ambassadors from the right subcultures, has made Red Sting a laser focused and addictive game campaign."
A short documentary about the game
The game was primarily marketed virally, in addition to below-the-iine activities offline. Some use of paid media placement at game start (total media spending: approximately 100 000 NOK).
- Editorial content in niche media (Kingsize, Tacky, Fri Flyt)
- Song by Lars Vaular (release of the single 'Kyllinger')
- Redsting.no (the game site)
- 20+ additional game sites (among others umbralsk.org and stinged.info)
- Facebook and Twitter sharing
- Blogs from main game characters
- Various debate forums
- Music nodes
- In store on Red Sting cans (all in all 5 codes could be found on the cans)
- Msn and Nettby (teasers/text links at game start)
Facts and numbers
- Red Sting.no (main site): 52 125 visits/32 000 uniqueusers/ 489 266 PVs
- Average time onsite: 21 minutes
- High activity on related game sites (t.ex 32 932 visits on umbralsk.org)
- 5003 active players
- 2 out of 3 players stated that they had tasted Red Sting during the game.