In 1992, the Sci-Fi Channel launched, giving the world Farscape, the good Battlestar Galactica and an unhealthy amount of Stargate. A fallow period for TV science fiction caused them to rebrand themselves as the SyFy Network, home of wrestling and light fantasy shows about small towns with secrets. A boom in science fiction and fantasy brought on by the likes of Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead passed them by, and the network is just now starting to re-enter the genre arena.
But during the dotcom days of 1999-2000, the Sci-Fi Network embarked on a kind of viral advertising campaign. While social media did not exist, they aired a series of mysterious, paranormal ads to get people talking about their network – and drive them to their website, tapping into the UFO craze of the 90’s to get clicks.
Most of the campaign has vanished down the memory hole, but this ad from the campaign implores you to send them any unexplainable footage:
Other ads in the campaign showed people with strange magnetic powers, and oddly behaving bugs. These are sadly lost, or at least they haven’t been uploaded to Youtube. The gist of the campaign was that normal footage would be altered with some plausible-looking supernatural element; Sci-Fi happens.
But one ad from the Sci-Fi Happens campaign became famous. One ad from this cable network’s primitive viral campaign is still hotly debated to this day. And once you see it, you’ll know why: Continue reading