Jan 14, 2008

Local Town in Iowa Reacts to Vandalized Oceanic Billboards

Here is an article from the local paper in Ames, IA from last week after the Oceanic Airlines BBs were vandalized with Find815.com.

Thanks to Nicole.

Ames police officer Chad Lovig had no idea what he stumbled upon Monday afternoon.

Lovig suspected he had arrived on the site of billboard vandalism. The words "find815.com" were scrawled in black letters across a billboard advertisement for Oceanic Airlines.

What Lovig didn't know is the "vandalism" is apparently part of an ongoing alternative reality game for the television show "Lost."

"I saw it when I came into work today," said Lovig, who inspected the billboard near 815 S. Duff Ave. "This is the first chance I've had to look at it. It would be tough for someone to climb up here and do that."

"Lost" is an Emmy-award winning show that follows the survivors of Oceanic Flight 815. During a flight from Sydney, Australia, to Los Angeles, the plane crashed on an island in the Pacific Ocean, and the show tells the story of the 69 survivors as they learn about each other, the island and its other inhabitants.

The flight, airline and characters are all fictitious, but that has not stopped rabid fans from turning to the Internet as show executives have created various Web sites of companies with connections to the island and made "missing pieces" segments for fans to dissect. Fans also went online to experience the show's first alternative reality game, The Lost Experience, in 2006.

Ames is one of just nine cities worldwide sporting billboards for the fictitious airline. The advertisement, featuring the tagline "Lose yourself in London" and a picture of Big Ben, popped up around the beginning of the year. Since then, similar ads in Miami, Portland, Ore., Knoxville, Tenn. and Tustin, Calif., also had the phrase find815.com (the Web site the game originates from) written on them.

Lovig wasn't thinking about a Hollywood television show when he pulled up to the billboard Monday afternoon. He found the black markings odd, but he never connected it with an online game.

"We don't get a whole lot of billboard vandalism in Ames," Lovig said. "I haven't heard anything about (this involving) the show."

He wasn't alone.

Susan Gwiasda, city of Ames public relations official, said the city didn't know about the show's plans for the billboard.

Ames Police Commander Jim Robinson said he was unaware of any problem with the billboard Monday afternoon and added the police department had no report of vandalism involving the sign.

ABC Media Director Erin Felentzer and Marlene Zakovich, of marketing promotions, did not return phone calls.

The Internet game follows former Oceanic employee Sam Thomas on his quest to find the airplane. Thomas is driven to know what happened to his girlfriend, Sonya, a stewardess on the flight.

Gamers help solve the mystery of Flight 815 by solving puzzles, looking for encrypted messages in e-mails, and checking Thomas' cell phone messages. The game began when ABC released an e-mail stating Oceanic would resume flights to nine cities, including Ames, on Dec. 28. Additional clues on the fake airline's real Web site, www.flyoceanicair.com, led curious fans to www.find815.com.

Source: Mid-Iowa News


Jake Chambers said...

Haha... this one's good:

who inspected the billboard near 815 S. Duff Ave

The adress is just a coincidence, huh? :D

gretchenjoy said...

In the email Sam received from unknown with all the numbers in it, I pulled out these numbers, which were a dark shade of gray intead of black: 1, 1, 7, 8, 4. I do not know what they mean, but they were noticeably different. Therefore, I am assuming they are significant in some way or another. Let me know your thoughts on this please.