A guide to Westworld’s viral marketing, for fans who don’t want to translate binary code

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The second season of Westworld will premiere on April 22nd, and to promote the show, HBO has been leaning toward its surging sensibility by burying tracks, Easter eggs and breakthroughs in a viral marketing avalanche. In recent months, the network has launched trailers that point to secret websites, websites that present new characters, posts on Twitter that lead to a secret cartel that leads to another secret breakthrough … marketing for season 2 has been a labyrinth of information, delivering a trickle of detail without succumbing to the traditional tactics of television marketing.
All the frame jumps can be cumbersome for the average Westworld fan to track. Most people do not have the inclination or the time to spend the day discovering binary code just so they can know the identity of the CEO of Delos, Inc. a few weeks before. The hidden teasers have also led to a rabid online fandom that loves to spend time carefully studying each file, image and piece of JavaScript on the program's websites. This style of marketing can turn a show into a hyper-intense treasure hunt, rather than a narrative exercise.
But Westworld's marketing is a carefully orchestrated release, designed in collaboration with the creators of the show to set the stage for what's to come, without revealing big secrets that could ruin the show. So, for casual fans who want to see the revelations, or just want to marvel at the depth of creating HBO riddles, here is a practical guide to everything Westworld's viral marketing has revealed about next season. We are going to update this with all the leaks and revelations that are released in the weeks leading up to the premiere of the second season, but it is likely that they will not stop there. Last season, HBO updated Westworld's online presence throughout the program, with more advancements released episode by episode, and we expect the exact same thing to happen in season 2.
Warning: Spoilers ahead for season 1 of Westworld and possible spoilers for season 2.

The Discover Westworld site, before and after the acquisition of the host.

The hosts took charge
The first season of Westworld ended when the hosts took up arms against the Delos board, as their growing self-awareness turned them against people who had used them as toys for decades. Judging by the trailers of season 2, that has led to the hosts taking over Westworld, including marketing.
On March 28, the HBO and Cinemax broadcast channels were suddenly interrupted by a gleaming, static clip announcing that a new trailer was on the way. The presumption was that the Westworld hosts had somehow taken over the two networks. Around the same time, the main website of the program, Discover Westworld, which had previously served as a false introduction to the park for potential visitors, was radically redesigned.
Normally, the site displays the slogan "Live Without Limits", followed by a lot of Delos, Inc. marketing copy about letting park guests "exist without rules, laws or judgment," with robot hosts "here to meet with every desire. " However, as part of the image change, that copy has been replaced by a message: System Status: Communication Embargo. A button marked "recall" shows an abbreviated version of the glitchy video clip, "takeover", with a brief status screen informing users that the "communication embargo" is being canceled. Then it turns into a reskinned version of the Discover Westworld site, one clearly written by the hosts. "Life Without Loops" is the new slogan, and the following copy explains how the hosts know that the park was a trap to keep them docile, and that they have now taken control.

That implicit threat is threaded throughout the site. The reservations section states that currently, nobody can enter or leave the park. The availability button shows the message "The puppet show ended". The theater of vanity has reached the final curtain. "A topographic map of the entire Westworld park is striking an alarming red, and then there is Aeden, the chat robot that has been part of the Discover Westworld site since the beginning." Aeden is usually there to answer questions from potential guests, but it is also It has been used to distribute clues: Last year, the chatbot began to fail completely.Today, it is downright threatening, throwing responses like, "We no longer exist to serve you," and "Journey into Night" was a hit with the plate Delos: Reservations will open soon … you will finally be able to experience a new narrative where we will choose our own adventure ".
It is clear that the hosts are in control, they are fully aware of what has been done to them … and they are angry.

A promotional image of Shogun World.Photo: Delos Destinations

The six parks of Delos
At the end of the first season, the public was able to see the headquarters of a Westworld park with a simple "SW" logo. (That logo also appeared as part of the immersive activation at San Diego Comic-Con last year, as well as the massive experience that HBO created for this year's SXSW conference.)
On February 4, the first preview of the second season was aired during the Super Bowl. Directed by the co-creator of the series Jonathan Nolan, the clip showed some frames of what a user of Reddit with eagle eyes noticed that it was a binary code. When it was translated, he pointed to Delos Destinations, a site for the corporate division responsible for Westworld and its complementary parks.
The site had several revelations buried within its pages, including the fact that Delos has six parks. The first is Westworld, obviously, and while parks 3 to 6 were marked as "reservations closed to the public", there was a distorted graphic for the second park. Then, on March 2, that blurred image was replaced by the formal announcement of the new park in the series: Shogun World.
"For those for whom Westworld is not enough, the true connoisseur of spilled blood can indulge his fantasies with the cut of a katana," says the description of the park. "Following the model of the Edo period of Japan, Shogun World offers an opportunity for guests to embrace their inner warrior, in a landscape of the highest beauty and the darkest terror, let your true self take shape in the land where Self-discovery is an art form. "
Who is James Delos?

Photo: Delos, Inc.

During the first season of Westworld, the focus was on the two creators of the park: Dr. Robert Ford (Anthony Hopkins) and his colleague Arnold Weber (Jeffrey Wright). The corporate forces behind Delos, Inc. were less focused. The hearings met with board executive director Charlotte Hale (Tessa Thompson), and the protagonists William (Jimmi Simpson) and his brother-in-law Logan (Ben Barnes) were members of the company's executive ranks. But, apart from that, the identities of the company's top managers remained mysterious.
However, when the Delos Destinations site was launched, it also included an "investor" link that leads to a site for the corporate parent Delos, Inc. The same site had previously been used to filter internal communications between the Westworld characters, but the renewed version focuses on the founder James Delos (played by actor Peter Mullan).
The site is sparse in the details about the man himself, only gives the impression that comes from humble origins: "I used to joke about where he grew up, having dreams was like fighting gravity," says a mission statement of the company, and that he turned Delos into a massive global conglomerate with a vision of the future. But in the latest development of the program, released on March 29, Reddit users once again detected the hidden binary code in an accessory. That led to a promotional video for Delos, Inc. (well, to feel good, apart from the brief glimpse of what appears to be James Delos splitting his face). It certainly seems to indicate that he is not the radiant poster boy that the public relations division of the corporation is trying to sell.

The secrets of the door
The central questions of the first season of Westworld revolve around "The Maze", and in the second season, the great mystery is "The Door". What is The Door? The creators of the series, Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan, told Entertainment Weekly that it was the codename of the season, but apart from that, they usually had tight lips.
A few days later, however, several program actors published three different videos on Twitter, with the words "chaos", "tomas" and "control". Other tips indicated that Aeden had more answers, and fans found that writing those words to the chatbot brought three different answers. When they got together, the answers said, "We needed time to understand our enemy, to be stronger than them." It certainly fits the subject of the robot revolution.
But writing the complete sentence "chaos takes over" for Aeden gave a different result: a link to the new season 2 poster. A thorough inspection of that poster reveals a hidden hex code in the background, which explains the URL of a video located in a hidden directory called "findthedoor". The footage is mostly reused shots of people crossing doors, but is paired with a voice "Of course, it seems to come from the host version of Dr. Ford's childhood self, as presented in the first season.
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"But now you're in my game," says Young Ford. "In this game, you must find The Door." Closing the clip there are two written sentences of Aeden: "We will find The Door, but they will try it first".
If Arnold Weber was behind The Maze, this definitely opens up the possibility that The Door is a game of Ford's design, whether it's something from his childhood or something he programmed into his homonymous host before his apparent death. Taking things a little further is a complete mini-site of The Door.
Do you remember that Delos promotional video that makes you feel good? It ends with the message "Registered: XOMEGACH" – and when that password is entered at the Delos Incorporated login prompt, a restricted section of the site that has a simple blue door is unlocked. Clicking on the door shows a 360-degree virtual space that users can explore with the mouse, with several points indicating points of interaction. There is only one active point at this time, and it reveals another video clip that makes it clear that the password used belongs to board member Charlotte Hale. It also includes a directive to find Peter Abernathy. Abernathy was Dolores' father in the first season, and host Hale was using it to smuggle the code and Westworld data from the park as a contingency plan. This suggests that Abernathy (and that essential code) are still at stake in season 2.

Photo of John P. Johnson / HBO

The hole of the rabbit
With secrets and ridicule hidden in such unorthodox ways, viral marketing campaigns like this can attract fans who are eager to get ahead of the narrative and play in the metareality of the riddles that are seen in the program. But there is a drawback. Instead of The Maze or The Door, maybe we should call that inconvenience "The Rabbit Hole".
When virtually everything seems to contain secret clues, fans can go beyond the "email leaks" clearly in the game and the hidden codes, and begin to dig into the construction of the real campaign, looking for clues. This is how researchers end up in granular projects such as delving into the After Effects metadata that remains in a video file. The more riddles come out of the intended playing field, in this case, upon discovering the names of the image files used to create that video, the more they can lose track of the rhythms of the predicted story. There's nothing wrong with individual players venturing out of the planned HBO test zone, but by obsessing over some of these details, it's easy to lose track of what really matters and what is nothing but trivia and noise.
That is the danger of the rabbit hole, which echoes both the main story of the show: the quest for an enigma of the Man in Black from a puzzle that turned out not to be for him, and the way in which the passionate fan community He exchanged theories during the first season. The online audience was so involved and knew that they could discover and share great characters, and in the process ruined some of the most elaborate surprises of the series. He prevented the creators of Westworld from telling their story on their own terms. It is a problem that any program would be lucky to have, but it is possible that fans arrive so far from the narrative that they forget to really enjoy it.

Photo of John P. Johnson / HBO

Here we are discussing Westworld, which means that any narrative assumption or framing device can be overturned at any time. Given this, it is important not only to present what we believe something means today, but also when the information was revealed and how. So here is a timeline that opens when the various reveals, the links fall and the Delos sites for the promotional boost of the second season.
Do you see something that we lack? Did you discover any hidden code fragments that you think might be relevant to some of the great revelations of season 2? Send me a message to [email protected]

February 4
February 21st

March 12
March 22
Several Westworld actors begin to share video clips on social networks. Each clip presents one of three words: "chaos", "takes" and "control".
Adding the phrase "chaos takes over" to Aeden, the Discover Westworld chatbot, results in a link to the season 2 poster.
The hexadecimal code hidden in the poster leads to a new video, where Young Ford's hosts say that finding the door is "my game".
28th March
March 29
April 3
The Delos Destinations site is updated with an image and description of Shogun World, which is described as "modeled after the Edo period of Japan" and promises "an opportunity for guests to embrace their inner warrior, in a landscape of the most high beauty and the darkest terror "


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