The Lost Experience was a multi media marketing alternate reality game developed by Channel 4 to support Season Two of LOST.

The marketing campaign was designed to unite LOST fans from around the world in an alternative reality game developed as a spin-off from the TV programme.  Working closely with the writers behind LOST, the Lost Experience revealed the ‘back-story’ of the Hanso Foundation, the shadowy organisation behind the fictitious Dharma Initiative which sits at the heart of the TV series.  A detailed combination of TV adverts, fake websites, call-centres, blogs, chocolate bars, video and flash mobs were co-ordinated to enable users to follow the story of Rachel Blake, an ex-employee of the Hanso Foundation trying to uncover the truth behind the company’s sinister activities.  In the UK alone over 30,000 unique users regularly interacted with the alternate reality game.

 

Principal In-Game Websites

Due to the nature of the game, clues and hacks were released over the 6 months the game ran. While the websites below will give you an idea of the breadth of the experience, it is very difficult to re-create the excitement that came out of the constant reveal of new details, the launch of new sites, fragments of the story, etc.

Please refer to the video above for a (very brief) overview of the experience...

The Hanso Foundation

www.rachelblake.com

stophanso.rachelblake.com

Apollo Candy

HansoExposed

DJ Dan

whereisalvar.com

 

The Lost Experience highlights the fine line between marketing and content in a hugely ambitious way, adding a sense of realism to a fictional show.  It was about breaking the rules and doing something groundbreaking and new, finding ever more creative ways of storytelling and rewarding the most loyal fans.  Ultimately it was about the wisdom of crowds, a truly global network of fans coming together to unfold a story, to tell it to others and to become an integral part of the story itself.  The writers of LOST are amongst the best storytellers around today – this harnesses their skills in a fluid and non-traditional way, allowing a more collaborative reveal of plot and characters and harnessing the speculative nature of the show.

Launched in May 2006 there were five key stages to the Experience:

  1. A specially filmed advert for The Hanso Foundation was broadcast on Channel 4 during the first episode of Season Two on May 2nd 2006 (and subsequently on ABC in the US).  The advert led players (via a call centre) to the Hanso Foundation website (www.thehansofoundation.org) which was hacked by Rachel Blake revealing clues to players into the sinister activities of this apparently altruistic organisation.
  2. In response to the hacking www.thehansofoundation.org is quickly shut down.  Source code in the shut-down site guided users Rachel’s travel blog at www.RachelBlake.com. The travel blog is revealed to be a video log from Rachel with further revelations about The Hanso Foundation and its senior staff.
  3. A video revealing an explosive secret about The Hanso Foundation was then coded and hidden in 60 video fragments across the globe both online and offline.  When the video codes were entered into www.hansoexposed.com the video fragments could be viewed as a whole.  Channel 4 hid video fragments within E4 idents and hosted two ‘flash mob’ events in London and Manchester.  To compile all the video clips relied on players from around the globe co-operating – the full sequence revealed the secret behind the famous numbers - 4 8 15 16 23 42.
  4. Ten thousand Apollo bars, the chocolate bar featured in Lost Season One, were released in selected outlets across the UK.  The chocolate bars were stamped with a new url, www.whereisalvar.com.  A small number of chocolate bars contained a special code which, when entered onto the site, provided a clue to the final stage of the game.
  5. The final phase was an Internet radio broadcast by DJ Dan, a well-known US shock-jock.  During a live phone-in show he took a call from Rachel Blake who announced the final website leading to the ultimate secret of the Lost Experience – Rachel Blake was the daughter of Alvar Hanso, the founder of the Hanso Foundation.