Getting Lost in a River of Secrets: The Marketing Campaign for “Gone Girl”

What happens when The War of the Roses meets American Psycho in the age of talk shows, celebrity TV and social media? If you shake all these elements and add a New York Times bestseller you get Gone Girl, David Fincher’s adaptation of the novel of the same name written by Gillian Flynn.

Even if you haven’t seen the film yet, by now you probably know that the story revolves around the fact that “Amazing” Amy (portrayed on screen by Rosamund Pike), who inspired the main character of a popular book series for children, has disappeared. Her husband, Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck), is soon suspected of having murdered his (apparently) beloved wife. While the police investigate under the media spotlight, secrets and sordid details of their relationship become of public domain.

Let me try to give you an overview of some of the marketing initiatives used to promote the film, without spoiling the main twists of the plot. It all started with a phone number to dial. As reported by Movieviral, the first part of the campaign focused on the efforts to find Amy, with active phone lines to call and a viral website providing a news ticker, clips from the trailer (at the time yet to be released) and links to social media platforms related to the film.

Help Find Amy Dunne: a marketing campaign for "Gone Girl"

By exploiting a more childish, playful and almost fairy tale tone, the promotion later focused on providing a background to the Amazing Amy book series, which in the fiction is written by Amy’s parents and whose artwork was created by Kirk Van Wormer. They can be downloaded through iBooks here.

Artwork for the "Amazing Amy" book

Finally, a platform was launched to offer a more interactive experience and connect the viewers with the chilling tone the film assumes as the investigation progresses. River of Secrets asks a simple question: “What do you hide from the one you love?” It’s possible to submit personal answers by texting or recording audio tracks, which will be streamed on the website.

Screenshot of the interactive platform "River of Secrets"

As Mashable noted, River of Secrets was developed using the webGL technology: “As you look out over the river, written confessions roll on by, while audio creates ripples in the water. Gloomy music plays over the bleak, dusky scene. It’s pretty dreadful.”

Although the river mentioned refers to the Mississippi, where the rescue mission takes place in the fiction, the disturbing answers recorded so far tell more universal and painful stories other than the ones born out of the fantasy of Gillian Flynn. Who, by the way, seems to have touched a raw nerve of our society.

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