Crack The Code

Creating a fan fueled frenzy through cinema preview screenings

Xbox, 20th Century Fox

Fan focused preview screenings are a great way to win advocates and build that all important word of mouth buzz ahead of your release. But how do you ensure great attendance and avoid the high dropout associated with free events? 

Working with Xbox and 20th Century Fox we crafted a campaign to support a series of fan screenings for Alien: Covenant across the entirety of Australia. Blending gamification with a strong social initiative we achieved a massive 90% attendance. 

The Ask

Manage an allocation of 1000 pairs of tickets across 5 Australian states for exclusive Alien: Covenant fan screenings and secure high attendance.

The Campaign

Our campaign began by seeding 5 code segments across social media in the run up to launch. We then created a registration hub housed on where participants could arrange the 5 code segments they’d found in the correct order to win their ticket

Map of Australia showing cinema venues


We knew from the start that Crack The Code would be a living, breathing organism. It would have to be smart, adaptive and react in real-time. With this in mind we custom built a lightweight, lightning fast PHP API that would talk directly to a MySQL server. The campaign was then hosted on Microsoft’s Azure platform to allow scalability while meeting the demands of the traffic peaks of the campaign.

Upon submission the entered code was verified to make sure it was correct. Tickets were then kept in a holding pen for 5 minutes for the user to register. Imposing a time limit kept the gamification and excitement alive throughout the experience. With the ticket levels ever-changing, live availably for each region was displayed.

Finally, for security all registration details were encrypted and saved in a secure database ensuring the code was the only hack involved in the campaign!

Alien face


To maximise attendance we employed the theory of ‘Effort Justification’. Put simply; the harder someone has to work for something the more they value it.

Adding barriers to entry can be risky as they can affect participation, but in this instance we knew from the outset that the exclusive screenings of Alien Covenant would be in high demand, so securing foot-fall would be easy.


A little psychology alone is not enough to deliver success. We created a carefully considered user journey to maximise retention and minimise frustration. With such an integral social campaign, frustration can easily boil over into a Twitter backlash. The experience needed to feel difficult to deliver a sense of value, but we needed to ensure we gave the right level of feedback to participants so they felt in control of the process.

We drew our inspiration from classic brain-teasers giving players just enough information to deduce the solution. On average it took people 6 attempts to crack the code, maximising retention while maintaining the sense of difficulty required to deliver perceived value.

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