Six to Start

Four Codes and Keys for Death Cab for Cutie

A four week online puzzle hunt across Twitter, Foursquare, and the real world for Death Cab for Cutie, Atlantic Records, and eBay.

For the release of Death Cab for Cutie’s new album, Codes and Keys, we created Four Codes and Keys, an innovative puzzle hunt that took place over four weeks in May 2011; players were competing to win tickets to 11 concerts and the chance to unlock an exclusive live track for the whole community. Developed at breakneck speed, Four Codes and Keys went from concept to launch in under a month but still offered a innovative experience for all of its players.

The Hunt

We created four unique puzzles and games that integrated QR codes (readable by eBay’s RedLaser app) as part of the challenge and solution, and we chose four very different ways of engaging players – but throughout it all, players weren’t just competing against each other, they were working together online and in the real work.

  • Talking Bird: Players had to rebuild a QR code by sliding in Twitter avatars (whose photo pictures had the missing pieces) into the correct places, while using their tweeted clues to figure out the right positions.
  • Line of Best Fit: A single-player word-building game with a Death Cab twist – players earned points for placing words on a board, with special bonus points for words and lyrics taken from the band’s songs. During the four weeks, a massive 100,000 turns were played across 10,000 different games.
  • You Are A Tourist: “You and your brother could check in here before checking in was cool.” The answer is, of course, a hotel – and that’s where players had to physically visit and check in to pass this riddle (with eight others like it). This challenge was built on our Wanderlust storytelling engine (powered by Foursquare), and all nine riddles solved in a mere few hours
  • Photobooth: Hundreds of players took photos based on Death Cab-themed challenges to assemble a massive QR code mosaic.

Four Codes and Keys proved to be a fantastically engaging campaign that tied directly into the themes and the fans of Death Cab for Cutie, providing real exposure for the new album and for eBay and RedLaser.


Six to Start

  • Adrian Hon (Exec Producer)
  • Andrea Phillips (Producer and Game Designer)
  • Alex Macmillan (Development)
  • Lisa Long (Logistics)
  • Eric Harshbarger (Puzzle Design)