Our favorite simple candy “IRIS” (toffee) in which you can lose all your teeth is actually a chemical drug, it was created by the state security committee in 1956 in a closed research Institute as part of the program for bringing up communists.
I used this idea as a foundation for the legend and myth of my next marketing mini-escape game letter project.
There is an immersive theater called “Obsessive Petersburg”. I came across it accidently just passing by walking with my girlfriend. It turned out that the kid who was handing out the flyers convinced me to drop in on them. Fortunately, the price was small, about 500 rubles.
What is an immersive theater? It’s like an ordinary theater which involves a performance with actors. But the difference is that it is played out in a room where you walk freely. If the actor talks with you, you can play with him, but it’s not necessary. If nothing comes to mind, you can stand still and the actor will do everything himself. It’s like your friend went on a binge again and you were pushed onto the stage without giving a text. So you improvise, and the actor improvises, everyone improvises and everyone is okay with it.
I liked the format. There are five actors, a good script, two culminations like in the best blockbusters and there you can be flogged if they find out that you are a German spy. So, you’d better drop in, if you are on Fontanka street 26
The next day, I came up with an idea. I could be a partner with those guys, make for them a micro-escape game letter that would be given in an envelope before you leave the locations. This would increase the value of the entire product and could also provide organic marketing.
I contacted with Anton Zakharin, the Director of this project, and shared with him my idea. At that moment it looked like this: “I’m doing a escape game letter in an envelope, it will be cool, I don’t know what exactly we can do, but it will be cool. I have a plan and I will stick to it.
At first, I wanted to do a escape game letter on the theme of the Pushkin era. A magical story about souls and something like that.
But at one of the meetings we talked about people’s nostalgia for the USSR and this attracted my attention, I realized that this is the right direction. Like a miner, I started to dig in this direction.
The KGB, the USSR, the Cold war, the underground laboratory are powerful and emotional memes that can be used.
In addition, it doesn’t contradict the script of this show. There was a room with security officers, and that I could use for my game.
Eventually, I wrote this legend: In a closed and secret research Institute, senior researcher I. V. Berezin makes a brilliant discovery, the drug IRIS.
I — Intramolecular
R — Regulator
I — Intensive
S — Stimulation
This drug dramatically increases muscle strength, endurance and sharpens mental abilities. This became known from experiments on animals.
People from the KGB quickly realized that this could be the key to the emergence of Soviet power. Forcibly selecting 28 “volunteers”, they conducted experiments on people.
And this happened exactly on Fontanka Street 26, where the immersive theater is located. Everything was fine, almost everything…
Four volunteers went mad and they were left for treatment and observation. So the project itself was renamed “Golden key” and after tests on the children in kindergartens and pioneer camps. It was released as a regular candy IRIS “Golden key”.
Documents and witnesses were destroyed. But you can’t hide the truth and some information remained in the national automated system. (OGAS)
The national automated system of accounting and information processing (OGAS) is a project of the automated economic management system of the USSR based on the principles of Cybernetics, which includes a computer network connecting data collection centers located in all regions of the country.
Actually, to find out this terrible secret, players solve riddles. It requires hacking into the OGAS login.
For all the delirium of this story, the interweaving in the plot of the theater itself was perfect:
- the envelope is given by a prisoner in the prison cell, who also appears in the legend as a test subject number 21.
- The security officer interrogates the players as spies which makes us believe that this is a secret object.
- Two other actors are also listed in the reports and due to the description of the players they understand that all of them (except the security officer) were subjects in this experiment.
The script of the show remained intact and the escape game letter organically formed as an additional myth that logically explained what was happening in this strange but attractive place.
How did I implement this?
The escape game letter consists of two parts. The envelope and the site where the players enter the answers to the riddles.
Online registration is performed as a login form for the OGAS system that requests: the user’s last name, activation code, and other authorization data.
As you can see, the puzzles are made as native as possible. They don’t seem to exist. The player is simply trying to hack the system. There is no affectation or artificiality. Everything is real.
After players hack the entrance to the OGAS, they get into the archive of the IRIS project. The page is designed as a chronicle of reports. Each report is provided with a date and describes how IRIS developed from the discovery in a chemical laboratory to the mass launch of the “Golden key “ candy.
I had to work hard to create an envelope. The cost of the kit was to be no more than 15 rubles and very simple to play.
Nights of agonizing reflection led to an ingenious but simple configuration: A4 sheet, small newspaper clipping, toffee candy, 10 pennies coin of the USSR.
Why did I choose these items?
10 pennies coin of the USSR
I put a 10 pennies coin in the escape game letter for a reason. You definitely need something that players can squeeze. In order to satisfy your pirate spirit.
The player opens the envelope and a coin drops out of it. There’s an explosion of emotion inside it. I found a treasure! Mine! People start fighting to get it and stuff like it.
Seriously, the coin is needed to experience the emotions of the game. In addition, the inscription on the coin is used as an answer to one of the questions for entering the OGAS system. You need a coin to activate word-of-mouth marketing.
The paper will be crumpled and thrown away, the candy will be eaten and forgotten, and the coin will be put in a pocket, shown to a friend, and told where it was received.
This is exactly what we wanted. Word of mouth marketing. But not like a simple request “Please, tell a friend about us, he will get a discount, please, we beg you very much”. This nonsense doesn’t work. It is necessary to give the content and the emotions that the person himself came and told:
“Hey, bro, I’ve found something, check it out…”
We are making the evangelists of the product. Well, or the haters, both are equally useful.
By the way, I bought coins for 250 rubles for 100 pieces.
Candy the IRIS “the Gold key”
In the game, it’s not just sweetness. It is an oral IRIS drug that is the secret weapon of the Communists in the struggle for world peace.
The secret project “Golden key “ was supposed to give the country super Communists. This is the evidence that players have found and can show to the world, maybe even send to the local newspaper. This is a familiar object, but with the help of a legend, I give it a new life. But if you give a legend but don’t show evidence, the effect of the game won’t be so strong.
I also use our cravings for sweets to cause the player’s emotions a little more by giving them a delicious meal.
If you could only see the childish joy on the faces of people who see Toffee (IRIS) falling out of an envelope. It was definitely the right decision to put it there.
Spark, a wave of emotions and nostalgia covers players when they see this sticky caramel creation with the inscription “Red October” on a yellow barrel.
And the candy is framed in the most direct way in a legend that blows the roof off players.
A special message and a newspaper clipping
I needed the A4 sheet to place the entry legend on it. It is written on the back and made in the form of a call for help, but since there was no paper in the cell, he stole this piece of paper from the investigator’s Desk, which coincidentally mentions the project “Possessed Petersburg”.
The information on this sheet gives answers to the player to log in.
A newspaper clipping is needed to natively give an entry point to the online part. If I just gave a link in the form: “to start the game, enter The link to the site”.
It would destroy all magic. No, my task was to create the feeling that the player is not asked for anything, but he wants it. He wants to figure out what the hell is going on.
The text of the newspaper clipping article tells part of the story and provides information to start the game.
Making the first 10 game envelopes
After I registered the story and made the online part of the game “site” and the form for entering answers. I set up a polygraph, quickly printed it out in the copy center for the Uprising, and returned to my laboratory, the kitchen to be exact.
There is nothing worse than a escape game letter about the old days with documents on snow-white paper. So I took a secret recipe and with the help ot if and of H2O aged the pages.
I quickly dried them on the floor and carefully put them in their envelopes.
With love, putting a coin and a sweet candy in each of them.
This envelope which costs 15 rubles gives so many emotions to players that they explode with the desire to share their experience on social networks and to tell a friend. It’s cohesive.
After players leave the immersive theater, they go to a cafe and start getting a new experience. In the customer’s mind, this significantly increases the value of the product they have already paid for. The show runs for 40 minutes. Thanks to the escape game letter and the investment of 15 rubles, we extend the positive experience of a person for another 30–40 minutes and let them feel like a winner, a pioneer, a friend.
Grateful players will be happy to share their emotions in social networks, they get artifacts that they can show to their friends.
escape game letters in this format are an effective tool for launching word of mouth. You can tell the story of your brand, anchor positive emotions, and do all this so that the customer wants to come back, pay more and tell their friends.
Thank you for your attention and good luck in your projects!