The New York Times perplexed readers this morning by printing two pages that were completely blank, save for the page number, issue date, and a small mention at the bottom of the page for the URL “wordsarelife.com.”
As it turns out, the blank pages are actually an advertisement for the upcoming 20th Century Fox movie “The Book Thief,” whose protagonist is a young girl who steals books to share them with others during WWII-era Germany.
The wordsarelife.com URL, which redirects to the movie’s official website, was deployed by the PR firm 42 West to convey the importance of the written word and how shocking it would be if we one day opened the newspaper to find them absent.
It’s not much to look at, but here’s what the “ad” looked like in the New York Times today:
It’s debatable whether the marketing ploy was particular clever, but it undeniably appears to be working. So far, the stunt has been covered by The Huffington Post, Variety, and others. And it’s generated plenty of chatter on Twitter.
The ad’s success is the latest example of how brands are using mysterious “old media” in the physical world to multiply the number of people who see their ads through online buzz created by social media and online news outlets.
Earlier this month, the file-sharing service BitTorrent was successful at this trick when it revealed itself to be the party behind the creepy billboards that had cropped up in New York and San Francisco satirizing government surveillance. And another movie, “Carrie,” also got in on the action with a scary feigned telekinesis stunt that took place in a New York City coffee shop.
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