|The Institute for Human Continuity is a creation of Sony Pictures to advertise their new doomsday fiction film 2012.|
When the website was first launched it had very little information to identify it as a marketing scheme for the movie. In fact, Stu Robbins at PseudoAstronomy says:
At the time it came up, there was NO disclaimer on the website. The only sign that it may be publicity for a movie was the little © 2009 Sony Pictures at the bottom of the website2.
The ‘WHOIS’ system4 returns this information about that domain:
Registrant Organization:SPDE Domain Names Inc.
“SPDE” is “Sony Pictures Digital Entertainment”. The nameservers are in the SONYPICTURES.COM domain. The registrant address is the same as that found on SONYPICTURES.COM.
In addition to the text of the website, the IHC website also hosted several videos that made no effort to disclose that the videos, and in fact the entire website, were marketing a crummy movie5.
At this point (August 2011) The IHC website itself provides various clues. However, the overall look of the website is still very slick and professional, and the 'clues' may be easily missed. Here are some of them:
Copyright Sony Pictures
Scroll down to the bottom of the home page page, and look over to the left… it says “(c) 2009 Sony Pictures”. Over just to the right of center it says “Explore the 2012 movie experience”
On the page is a message about the “election” from “Soren Ulfert”. If you click on the ‘Election’ tab you are taken to a page where they say that the “winner” will not only receive the honorary title of “Leader of the Post-2012 World” but also a trip to Cancun!
At the top of the “Election” page it mentions a few names, like “waitress like Cynthia of Miami, Florida; a farmer like Bill of Warren County, Illinois; or a fledgling novelist like Jackson Curtis of Los Angeles, California.”
“Jackson Curtis” is the lead character of the 2012 movie, played by John Cusack.
On the main page, click the “View” button on the press releases and move through them.
President Thomas Wilson
Marketing Gone Too Far?
Sony Pictures has chosen to build on a pre-existing fear; the fear that the world will end in 2012. They did not create this myth, but they apparently have no problem capitalizing on it. Once the decision was made to make the movie, they apparently realized that it was in their best financial interest to drum up even more fear about 2012, and then tap into that publicity in order to sell tickets.
So, they created the IHC website, but also created a television spot. It was also slick and smooth, and advertised the website. But, here's the problem: Right at the beginning of the spot it says:
The Mayan calendar predicts it, and modern science confirms it, that in the year 2012 an unprecedented solar occurrence will have a devastating impact on our planet.
Nice, huh? There is absolutely no indication that this is an ad for a movie until the very end, when it flashes the Sony Pictures and Columbia Pictures logos underneath the IHC logo, with a box stating "This film is not yet rated". I encourage you to go watch the 30-second spot6, and count how long that is on the screen. 3 Seconds! No "Coming in November 2009", no "2012 the movie" logo, just the 3-second flash of the production companies logos! No wonder people think it's for real!
The WHOIS data and the website for the Institute for Human Continuity show that it is a viral marketing campaign for the movie 2012, but Sony Pictures has occluded the information to the point where their marketing campaign is feeding the fear of the year 2012.