“There's no earthly way of knowing… which direction we are going.” If you felt an intriguing chill after hearing the lyrics to the song from "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" during a recent Lost promo but weren’t sure what it means—well that’s exactly what the folks over at ABC were hoping for.
As the megahit ramps up to it’s much-anticipated finale, the network’s marketing team has a tough weekly task of promoting Lost while revealing nothing. “It’s been a challenge,” admits ABC’s executive vice president of marketing Michael Benson. “Every piece of music we use, every type of video, every tactic plays into the mythology and the overall core essence of Lost. So we are very careful about everything we select. We want people drawing parallels to other things.”
And Lost and "Wonka" do have parallels. Both involve an enigmatic man who lures strangers to a mysterious setting with the hidden agenda of naming a successor. The persuasive Man in Black is Slugworth, ageless Alpert is the Everlasting Gobstopper… we could go on. “We got a note from [executive producer] Damon Lindelof about this specific promo,” Benson says. “He loved it.”
It won’t be hard to promote the May 23 finale since Lost fans are dying for some answers. "There are great expectations," says Marla Provencio, ABC's other EVP of marketing. "Lost truly changed the way we watched television, so when people come to the finale they’ll be analyzing it from the first second on."
Adds Benson, “We need to make sure that this finale goes beyond people who have watched Lost. We need to make this pop culture.”