This document proposes an analysis of Introducing the David 8 (2:30; Johnny Hardstaff, 2012), promotional video of Prometheus (R. Scott, 2012). The research considers the product and its related materials by studying the creative choices, the informative properties, the modalities of visual representation and promotion.
1.1. Prometheus: a new marketing myth
Developed by creating an unprecedented and sophisticated combination of materials with high immersive potential, Prometheus’ (R. Scott, 2012) transmedia campaign represents one of the most impressive and pervasive promotional initiatives ever made in the entertainment industry.
Thirty-three years after the release of Alien (1979), Prometheus’ new independent story had the aim of regenerating Ridley Scott’s legendary science-fiction intellectual property through an innovative phase of narrative and commercial expansion, implemented with meta-communication strategies, intersectoral collaborations and participatory practices.
“[We want to] blur the boundaries between content and marketing, fiction and reality, story and game. It can be blurred to the point of invisibility, creating a holistic narrative experience that entertains and engages regardless of platform. […] So keeping the story going and keeping people interested with just the right amount of information was the line we tried to walk the entire time. […]
The audience should have an active role to play in the narrative and their own place in the story world.”
1.2. Advertising a character
Introducing the David 8 presents the David 8 android (Michael Fassbender) showing its industrial “birth” process, relational skills and virtually unlimited operational functions. David 8’s first commercial availability coincides with its upcoming participation in Project Prometheus, with reference to the film, where the android participates as assistant to the interplanetary mission financed by Weyland Corporation to investigate the origin of humanity.
The content of the primary campaign includes (key elements):
- Ted Talk 2023
February 28, 2012
Entrepreneur Peter Weyland presents to the public his extreme vision of progress of humanity, announcing his ambition to change the whole world through the unlimited power of technology.
- Weyland Industries’ website
March 5, 2012
The company’s official website hosts sections dedicated to corporate services, the industrial sector, the company’s history and technology, recruitment and scientific projects, which all help to introduce, describe and expand the historical and techno-social context of Prometheus’ fictional world.
- Introducing the David 8
April 17, 2012
David 8, which is the result of eight generations of synthetic humanoids produced by Weyland Industries, is presented to the public through an interview with advertising purposes.
- Prometheus international launch trailer
April 29, 2012
After the teaser trailer (Feb. 17), the publication of the extended international trailer (2:55) reveals important unpublished scenes and new fundamental information on Prometheus’s story, generating immediate and intense traffic online.
- Quiet Eye
May 16, 2012
The private video message sent by Dr. Elizabeth Shaw to Peter Weyland asking him to finance her scientific and archaeological research, regarding the forthcoming Prometheus mission. 
- Training Center
May 16, 2012
The domain dedicated to recruitment as Weyland Industries operator in the Prometheus mission. To be suitable for the job, the user must perform a series of games and logical-interactive tests and obtain a high score against other users-candidates.
- Discover New Worlds
June 5, 2012
The domain hosts an interactive gaming experience where users can pilot the Prometheus spaceship to explore Weyland-owned space colonies and obtain information on their socio-economic context, unlocking exclusive concept artworks.
- Project Genesis
June 7, 2012
The domain hosts a gaming experience dedicated to helping Dr. Shaw complete her search for ancient artifacts, which are necessary for the scientific and archaeological purposes of Project Prometheus.
Users are invited to track down clues disseminated online and complete an interactive graph inside the domain, helping the archaeologist fill the star map that will indicate the mission’s final destination.
June 7–8, 2012
Revealed after the end credits of the film, the domain hosts a three-dimensional model of Thus Spoke Zarathustra by Friedrich Nietzsche, and a specific note with some historical information on the book’s content. There is also an unpublished video (0:27) that shows Peter Weyland mentioning Nietzsche absorbed in his thoughts, just before his speech on the TEDtalk 2023 stage.
1.1. Birth of an android
In a realistic advertisement, Weyland Industries present David 8, their newest and most advanced android model. When interviewed, the robot describes its physical and cognitive abilities, demonstrating the incredible simulation skills obtained by perfecting eight generations of synthetic humanoids.
“I can do almost anything that could possibly be asked of me. I can assist your employees. I can make your organization more efficient. I can carry out directives that my human counterparts might find… distressing. Or unethical.”
Essentially, Introducing the David 8’s promotional campaign developed in two phases:
- Preview at WonderCon
March 17, 2012
During the WonderCon, realistic Weyland Corporation business cards are distributed to the public. By visiting the official website indicated on the ticket, users can view the timeline dedicated to the history of the company and of its founder, Sir Peter Weyland. The ticket also shows an active phone number: when dialled, the registered voice of a Weyland Corporation operator informs the user that company lines are currently busy, and invites him to read the message that has been sent on his mobile phone as an answer. The text of the message refers, via a link, to the official Weyland website, where it is possible to view a first, exclusive reduced version of the David 8 video.
- Final release
April 17, 2012
The video’s final extended version (2:30) is published on Prometheus’ Youtube channel, on Mashable.com and on the Verizon Fios private television channel , obtaining an incredible media impact.
Other primary promotional initiatives were:
- Concurrently to the video, the @david8weyland Twitter profile, from which the android sends descriptions and technical updates to users, also answering their questions, is activated.
- The public is called upon to solve an enigma consisting of eight binary code sequences, distributed on various external websites: each sequence, if deciphered and recorded on Weyland Industries’ website, unlocks the image of a human emotion shown by the android (neutrality, anger, safety, joy, sadness, disgust, curiosity, confidence). Finally, the resolution of all sequences activates a page entirely dedicated to David 8’s simulation skills 
- On the same day, Weyland Industries’ website significantly changes its look and opens new sections dedicated to services offered by the company and Project Prometheus.
- The Wall Street Journal hosts a whole-page announcement that advertises David 8’s arrival on the market, with the intention of captivating a diversified audience and seeking greater interest in the initiative.
Considering the transmedia communicative strategies that have been adopted during Prometheus’ promotional campaign, Introducing the David 8 proves to be a particularly important project because:
- It combines stylistic aspects of advertising, immersive meta-communication and integrated promotional strategies.
- It presents the character of David 8, adding details on its industrial origin and exploring a specific previous and independent background to the film (which is set in 2093).
- It reveals new information on Prometheus’ techno-social context and setting (e.g.: Weyland Industries produce androids and finance space projects; androids are employed as assistants to human beings in working activities; a member of the forthcoming Prometheus mission crew is an android).
- It establishes a visual and stylistic connection with Prometheus’ sci-fi film dimension through connotative and peculiar production elements (colours, photography, aesthetic and linguistic choices).
- It encourages the public into a process of research and comparison of information, rewarding their competences and active role with exclusive content, in a long-term engagement strategy that begins months before and is destined to intensify in the future.
- It helps in evaluating the public’s response and participation and the product’s consequent visibility, in a crucial phase for the calibration of strategic development of content in the transmedia campaign.
“I would like to express gratitude to those who created me”.
2.1. Visual structure and information management
Re-examining Prometheus’ transmedia campaign, we notice that the combined use of entertainment processes and integrated information meets particular communicative purposes, with the aim of attracting many types of viewers and promoting the product among the various available media channels.
Introducing the David 8 ‘s analysis proposal is organized in summary sheets and consists in:
- Dialogue transcription
It reports all the original texts.
- Frame visualization
It presents the 43 examined frames.
- Scene identification
It establishes relationships between frames, uniting them in scenes.
- Identification of thematic sequences
It establishes relationships between frames, subdividing them in thematic units.
- Visualization of thematic sequences
It presents the identified sequences’ order.
- Variations in thematic sequences
It presents the identified sequences’ variation order.
- Analysis of the communicative structure
It includes the description of every chosen frame and a related interpretation proposal.
2.2. Dialogue transcription
Introducing the next generation David 8.
Launching June 8 on the Prometheus.
— Weyland operator
What is about robots that makes them so robotic?
At Weyland Industries, it has long been our goal
to create artificial intelligence almost indistinguishable… from mankind itself.
— David 8
Hello. I’m David.
— Weyland operator
What can you, do David?
— David 8
I can do almost anything that could possibly be asked of me.
I can assist your employees.
I can make your organization more efficient.
I can carry out directives that my human counterparts might find… distressing. Or unethical.
I can blend in with your workforce effortlessly.
— Weyland operator
David, what do you think about?
— David 8
I think about anything.
— Weyland operator
David, what makes you sad?
War. Poverty. Cruelty. Unnecessary violence.
I understand human emotions.
Although I do not feel them myself.
This allows me to be more efficient and capable.
And makes it easier for my human counterparts to interact with me.
— Weyland operator
David, is there anything you would like to say?
— David 8
I would like to express gratitude… to those who created me.
Happy birthday, David. From Weyland Industries.
Eighth-generation Weyland TIPE.
Technological, intellectual, physical… emotional.
2.3 Frame visualization
43 frames have been selected.
2.4. Scene identification
24 distinct scenes have been identified.
2.5. Identification of thematic sequences
By considering the frames, some structural constants regulating the images’ disposition as to their frequency, type and visual function emerge.
After having determined each constant’s distinctive features, it is possible to ascribe the images to a superior communicative unit, defined as thematic sequence.
In the film’s structure, 5 separate thematic sequences can be identified:
It is an opening text introducing the narrative or presenting information on the product (e.g.: its release date, Weyland Corporation’s logo and official website).
- Introducing David
It shows the android during its industrial activation process, or in stand-by.
- Interview with David
It presents the android talking and answering questions in an interview.
- Questions by Weyland
It shows the interviewer talking to David.
- David’s functions
It shows the android demonstrating its cognitive and operational capabilities.
2.6. Visualization of thematic sequences
2.7. Variations in thematic sequences
2.8. Analysis of the communicative structure
- 0:00–0:07 Announcement
- 0:07–0:29 Introducing David(1/3)
- 0:29–0:33 Interview with David (1/8)
- 0:33–0:36 Question by Weyland (1/5)
- 0:36–0:40 Interview with David (2/8)
- 0:40–0:48 David’s functions (1/9)
- 0:48–0:58 Interview with David (3/8)
- 0:58–1:00 David’s functions (2/9)
- 1:00–1:05 David’s functions (3/9)
- 1:05–1:08 Question by Weyland (2/5)
- 1:08–1:12 Interview with David (4/8)
- 1:12–1:20 David’s functions (4/9)
- 1:20–1:29 David’s functions (5/9)
- 1:25–1:27 Question by Weyland (3/5 audio only)
- 1:29–1:48 Interview with David (5/8)
- 1:48–1:52 David’s functions (6/9)
- 1:52–1:56 Interview with David (6/8)
- 1:56–2:00 David’s functions (7/9)
- 1:57–2:00 Question by Weyland (4/5 audio only)
- 2:00–2:03 Interview with David (7/8)
- 2:03–2:08 David’s functions (8/9)
- 2:08–2:13 Introducing David(2/3)
- 2:13–2:16 David’s functions (9/9)
- 2:16–2:18 Question by Weyland (5/5)
- 2:18–2:26 Introducing David (3/3)
- 2:26–2:29 Interview with David (8/8)
2.1. David’s success
Introducing the David 8 represents a perfect example of the evolution and increasing adoption of transmedia design configurations within the entertainment industry. Prometheus’ award-winning promotional campaign has in fact contributed to defining several new modes of immersive communication with transmedia structure, pushing the subsequent sectoral trends towards the radical transformation of a product’s promotional phase into a further entertainment experience: a communication process characterized by narrative expansion, technological experimentation and cultural participation, with collateral material and interdependent informative notions.
“”Prometheus” has transcended the two-hour movie format to become an immersive and pervasive entertainment experience.[…] The Marketing is an extension of the story itself. [In Transmedia] the advertising becomes part of the movie — with the bonus that it is tailored for mobile devices and sharing across social networks.”
The creation of complex fictional worlds, the fragmentation of content in multiple media channels, the methods of meta-communication, intersectoral business synergies and the public’s active role continue to determine innovative promotional solutions and new design goals. The sector’s priority of conceiving, promoting and managing immersive content contributes to the continuous redefinition of technological requirements, representation of information and management methods: strategies and design properties are perfected with the aim of optimizing production processes in the entertainment industry and of catalyzing the contemporary hyper-reactive public’s intense desire for immersion, interaction and appropriation.
 From TED (Ted Talk 2023) to Weyland Industries’ official website (the company’s timeline, its services and technology), from LinkedIn (recruitment messages) to Internet Explorer 9 (assessment test), WonderCon (realistic business cards) and Twitter (realistic individual profiles), Prometheus’ promotion has developed through distributing massive quantities of information via multiple and diversified media channels, achieving unprecedented design results. See https://bit.ly/2VuBn44 https://bit.ly/2HabUmy https://bit.ly/2Vj9E1y
 Interview with Chris Eyerman. See https://bit.ly/2Hj8aPm
 The video was written by Ridley Scott and Damon Lindelof and directed by Luke Scott. The event with Peter Weyland was announced in advance on TED’s official blog, where some biographical information on the fictional guest was provided. On the same day, Weyland’s personal Twitter profile (@SirWeyland) appeared online: on it, statements on Weyland Industries’ commercial future were directly released, encouraging the users to visit promotional websites and collect the first available information. Tom Rielly, TED conferences’ community director, jointly with other TED operators, collaborated with the production unit to define the 2023 futuristic setting (production design by David Mark Lee) See https://bit.ly/2JcvF0c https://lat.ms/2JqECT0 https://bit.ly/2vQZ5rY https://bit.ly/3aOpl9r
 The trailer was broadcasted in prime time on the British TV channel Channel 4, during the first commercial break of the series Homeland.
At the end of the trailer, users were invited to share their opinions on Twitter using the hypertext call #areyouseeingthis? (pronounced by Noomi Rapace). The most enthusiastic comments were then broadcasted live during the next commercial break, transforming the users’ tweets directly into television promotional messages for the first time in an advertising campaign.
 The texts, the Yutani Corporation logo and interferences with biometric systems may refer to illegal interception and industrial espionage activities done by the Japanese telecommunications company against Weyland.
 Designed in collaboration with Microsoft using the new Internet Explorer 9 and HTML 5, the activity is organised into five training sections (Agility, G-Force, Situational Intelligence, Spatial Relations, Prefrontal Cortex).
It is possible to register on the application via access with Facebook or Twitter credentials, simultaneously sharing the scores and objectives completed in the tests on social media. Each competition also includes secondary objectives, their related exclusive videos and celebratory icons that the user is encouraged to collect, gaining visibility on the Training Center’s main page, and receiving additional content directly on his personal e-mail.
After successfully completing the training, the user can access a Facebook application inside the Weyland website (Employee ID Creator, now disconnected), thus becoming part of the Prometheus crew with the possibility of digitally creating his own mission tag identifier, complete with personal data, passport photos and the Weyland Corporation logo.
 The Prometheus spaceship can be piloted to explore the 63 space colonies founded by Weyland Corporation on other planets, with company infographics on energy and mining resources, and 20 concept artworks to be unlocked along the virtual path. The domain was put online during Venus’ alignment with the Sun. Note: it is now disconnected.
 The introductory message reports: “Weyland Industries has contracted Dr. Elizabeth Shaw to help further her groundbreaking research on anthropological traces of a shared human origin. This stage of research requires outside agents to assist in the search for artifacts and sites from a variety of cultures that support her hypothesis.” After completing the search for clues, the user can download Dr. Shaw’s entire personal archive, complete with illustrations and notes relating to possible contacts between aliens and ancient human civilizations. Note: the domain is now disconnected. See https://bit.ly/2PWkfON
 The date is a reference to Weyland Industries’ corporate history, visible on its timeline: “WEYLAND INCORPORATES — Weyland Corporation is recognized as a legal entity and corporation under United States law and receives their Certificate of Incorporation from the Companies House in the United Kingdom. Due to the combined value of Sir Peter Weyland’s various patents and patent-pendings, the company incorporates with a higher fair market valuation than any other company in history.”.
Weyland pronounces the sentence “I am a law only for my kind, I am not a law for all”: the connection with Nietzsche reveals part of his cultural and philosophical background, and establishes a semantic and symbolic relationship with the creation of David, with clear thematic and visual allusions to the Superman culture and subsequent Nazi influences (see also the presence of Wagner’s Entry of the Gods into Valhalla reproduced by David in the first sequence of Alien: Covenant). The domain then hosts information on the Prometheus DVD and Blu-Ray. Note: the domain has been disconnected.See https://bit.ly/2DZUGHA https://bit.ly/2HcIipZ
 See https://bit.ly/309KZ2T
 A Verizon promotional domain also hosts an interactive experience dedicated to the Prometheus Mission Connect spaceship, in which users can make a virtual tour of the aircraft to explore its interior spaces and learn about its technical characteristics, with the possibility of winning a trip to London to visit Pinewood Studios, used for the film’s production. The domain
has been disconnected. See https://bit.ly/2HdLbXE https://bit.ly/2LvDikd
 The account has been disconnected.
 The original domain was weylandindustries.com/david (now disconnected). The promotional website meetwalter.com, dedicated to the Walter android produced by Weyland-Yutani, present in Alien: Covenant (R. Scott, 2017), has also been deactivated. Prometheus’ promotional domains were later merged into the Alien Universe domain, trying to unify the complete content of the intellectual property in a single official portal.
 The sophisticated transmedia campaign of The Hunger Games (2011–2015) represents a previous fundamental case study to analyze the evolution of immersive promotion modalities in the entertainment industry.
 Interview with Jeff Gomez and Simon Pulman.
Study method and sources
This document is the result of a compilation process created with scientific and accessibility requirements. Special care has therefore been devoted to coherently structuring the texts and analysis sections, to selecting functional visual devices, and to providing verified information by correctly citing sources of documentation, with the final objective of sharing useful material for the purposes of study, criticism and information. References to all the sources consulted have been inserted using numbers in square brackets  and reported in the references at the conclusion, with the relative explanatory notes. The hyperlinks’ accessibility was verified in November 2015, date of the document’s first publication. A final revision was made in May 2019.
The iconographic material, the trademarks (registered or unregistered) and all the information reported as being in any case protected belong to the respective owners. The internal use of protected material responds exclusively to a scientific and cultural intent.
The author releases the document through the license:
- Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0.
This allows third parties to share the published material indicating the origin, respecting the same type of original license and prohibiting the use for commercial purposes.
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