Thursday, May 15, 2008

So you think you can Photoshop on ice

I have more treats to give out. You?


C v J said...

Dear MuchMusic:


You're all hip to the interweb, right? I believe that's what you said. Get hip to this;


In otherwords, you suck. Plain and simply, this has been a waste of time.

I am not trolling. I am not trying to be cool by making fun of a corporation. I was very prepared to engage in an interesting and entertaining ARG...

You'll note my participation as user seeveejay on the youtube. I believe I had two of the more interesting and creative videos available. I went so far as to register the blogspot account phake615, thus having the domain i was originally planning this as the unofficial 'wiki' of the site... you've seen many of these for other ARGs... or so you'd think... I digress however. Simply keep in mind that this critique comes from a fan of ARGs, and not just a naysayer.

This has been a loss since day one. Granted, yes the inception of it was cool. Fake hacks - they looked good! The start of the blog was good too, you really needed a presence in the 'sphere, and you went to it... the abstract dance worked well - at first.

Sadly, what we did notice quite early in - is that you guys had no clue where this was going. We all showed up and jumped on and were cool. There were quite a few 'tweens' brought in under the faux rebellion theme [a marketing ploy which I find cheap and detestable] and these people were clueless as to how implausible this was.

There was also a core audience though, who while understanding the complete lack of plausibility were willing to suspend their disbelief to engage in your game. What we got however, was little more than one half-witted real life hint [the mad mark mask trade] which turned out to be nothing... then the blog diddled along posting pointlessly and frustratingly for weeks... then we got the point that you guys were putting videos on much. neato.

everyone solved the game days into it, and yet you dragged out your big reveal on the mmvas as though it was a secret, and then one day you simply go and prematurely ejaculate it into the blogosphere out of the blue. what do you expect us to think now?

"oooh! rebellion man is claiming he's going to commit a federal offense!! he's literally BROADCASTING IT! TWICE! THIS MUST BE REALZORS!"

har har...

my point is simply that your in-game dialogue as to how this task is performed simply isn't enough to base a suspension of disbelief on. particularly after claims that all much employees have been investigated and are not the phreak. [ps... it's a bait and switch to not include the actual phreak in the selections.] {pps the subsite claims it's not a "virus campaign" which is good, as we all thought it was a viral campaign anyway}

the capacity to believe was present in each of us early on. i have no access to your traffic logs, but i've got a pretty good idea that traffic is down atleast 50% since day one, right? you lost interest by chatting at us... You guys presented this just like television. Most successful ARG campaigns revolve around getting the user up and out from behind our screens. Yours did nothing to promote this, save getting us to record ourselves and send it in to you...which of course perpetuates the spiral as those who sent in videos to see them on tv likely spent hours at a time watching for themselves.

Granted, as a television station it's no surprise that this is the avenue you choice to exploit alongside the internet. However given all the tie-ins that were possible due to the massive Bell media conglomerate, the minimal amount of cross-coverage was pitiful.

Now, at the beginning, I stated this was a loss, and I'm not sure I clearly explained why. Allow me to break it down:

What has this amounted to?

We know this much...

Ultimately, fan videos are going to be displayed during the MMVAs.
This will be performed under the pretext of some rogue 'pop culture activist' [gross misrepresentation; for shame] placing perfectly timed fan videos in to make some point...[which has never been expressed. what is phreak's goal? can't start kids thinking, can we?]

Kids will feel good about themselves for it?

What We Can Assume:

Somewhere during the show, a conflict will arise between MM and Phreak. It's only natural. Much has admitted in RL and GL that they know Phreak exists. Thus we can expect them to be "watching out" for him at the MMVAs.

During this portion, Phreak will appear on TV, and likely get unmasked to be Devon [if it's not, big more swerve]. From here, speculation has things going so far as Devon being fake arrested, and Much deciding [after supposed MMVA rating spikes] to drop any charges and offer Devon a "phreak"-esque show on much wherein netvideos are played. [the only idea in this whole mess i support]

so, essentially what we see is a marketing ploy to advertise and gain awareness for phreak - who in turn brings extra awareness and advertising to the mmvas [the net crowd] which will culminate in extra ratings for the mmvas, and possibly a large audience to see the inception of much's next character based show [that hole ed leaves is quite the void].

Now, my problem is that from day one, everyone has understood this is a ploy for ATLEAST the mmvas. That being said, nothing was done to improve the difficulty of the game. No elements were introduced to get real world participation [how hard would it have been to leave phreak masks around TO and call it a scavenger hunt?] Nothing was done to hide the fact that this was just a giant billboard. You engaged us in an intelligent and interactive manner then, just as your MMVA tv commercials do - shouted at us "WATCH! WATCH! WATCH!"

it's pretty hard to build mystique and pique interest with actions like that.

Now - I'm not saying this won't wind up moderately successful for you.

The little tween and early teen crowd who understand the phreak as some symbol of 'rebellion' and 'activism', they'll eat this up. They'll love this just as much as your media savvy 18+ crowd is hating it.

[save the few who think it's a cool way to get some hits for their myspace. which is a dying breed in and of itself]

This is essentially where I think the problem lies;

In going the direction you have with this game, and making it so juvenile and allowing so little input, you've pandered to a lower age group which is already strongly within your grasp. [you've also continued to misinform them outright]

You also, however, completely lost out on the oppurtunity to snag a portion of the media savvy crowd that first started poking their noses around when this hit the web. The 18-25 demographic is grossly ignored on your channel in recent years, and I believe is currently being courted by some of the more downkey alternative/indie programming on MTV [which is still owned by the same company as you, so i admit its a moot point] in this demographic.

This is still an important field, and one that is continually ignored whenever much gets together for their newest "marketing" campaign.

So herein lies the loss:

You created a game that was so unplayable, it only attracted the passive, ignorant fans you already had and frustrated anyone else who became interested in it.

It's really a shame.
Hopefully some time down the road someone will execute an idea like this properly.

There's still time... I suppose you can still do something... This is cross posted somewhere special, too. So don't go thinking you can delete it and steal the good ideas!*

[*/sarcasm...i doubt you'd know a good idea if it smacked you in the face]


deathserpent123 said...

Ok i've figured out some more. Muchmusic is in on it. They made up all the hacks and put them in their shows with the website name. You go to and he says he is going to hack the mmvas and show you our home vids.
so you post your home vid and watch the mmvas. There, that's one more person watching the mmvas.

And isn't strange that commercials are getting hacked or something?
You can't hack a commercial well, you can but you would have to hack it at exactly the same time during a commercial.

Nature of Betrayal said...

Killenmachine05 (1 hour ago) Show Hide
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Reply | Spam
ive actually seen a new comercial just yesterday and it was saying much music has NOT been hacked and its going to be some contest called help us find the freak

That was posted on our youtube video.

Super Fag said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Super Fag said...

Oh, jeez, I spilled wine all over your shirt. You know what's good for getting stains out? Sex with another man.

Mad Mark said...

CVJ, you've basically said everything that I had ever dreamed about saying on this topic. Well done, my friend. You're probably one of the smartest people here.

With regards to the “lineup” on, let's break it down:
Phreak615 is not black (obviously).
Phreak615 does not have facial hair (at least as far as we know).
Phreak615 is most definitely not a woman (see above).
Phreak615 is not fat-looking. If his most recent picture is anything is anything to go by, then he's relatively thin and trim.

Thus, the answer is none of the 6 people pictured on that website are Phreak615. I believe that there is an 80% chance that he is, in fact, Devon Soltendieck, as we had mentioned a while back. So Devon, now that the jig is basically up, just pack up and go home. It's enough already. You've toyed with us long enough, and this whole thing turned out to be a stupid contest. I bet this whole thing must mean that Devon is leaving Much to pursue other projects, and wants to go out in "style". Either that or he wants to get his own show where people will be encouraged to send in videos agreeing or disagreeing with different topics. However, judging by the above photo, there is a possibility that Phreak615 might be Tim Deegan, or maybe even someone else who presently works for Much. You can see some brown hair showing at the bottom on the blue mask in Phreak’s most recent photo. Well, now that we know what this whole thing is all about, I can honestly say that it totally lacks style. Wow, how the mighty have fallen. Weak idea, Much. Very weak. What was once a fascinating ARG has now become a worthless waste of time.

disposableidentity said...

Well I don't know about Toronto cvj, but I found one out here (actually I didn't find the mask, but a friend who knows I've been spending way too much time on this found it and handed it over).

Not sure what to do with it. I'm waiting for instructions from on high.

So maybe you sound like you know what you're talking about, but maybe you're not as observant as you think you are. Maybe you're being a little quick to judge.

One thing I've noticed is that the people who sound like they're making progress on this thing (if you can really call it progress) seem to disappear. What do they know? What did they "get"? How "far" have they gotten?

I've found that if you play along you'll be pleasantly (if not necessarily handsomely) rewarded.

Fuck, what do I know? He didn't even show off my little Photoshop project. Not really my fault the skills are lacking, they just didn't teach my generation Photoshop in school.

Christopher said...

OK... I was waiting for this to make this comment since I saw the fake "whois" information - for those who don't know, faking whois illegal. This place is as good as any to note, it is time to report this to CRIA... and get Much's butt in the fire. With the law.

Now THAT'D be a fun hack (in the true sense of the word)... the marketing campaign that Much *really* paid for...first step in this new RG (note the lack of A) is to head on over to CRIA.

C'mon players, time to hack the legal system and stuff much with some nice legal penalties.

This just got fun again.

XJ said...

Once again CVJ I applaud your comments accuracy and sarcasm and join you in a new found complete lack of respect for Much Music's second rate marketing department.

They don't make FAIL stamps big enough for train wreck.

This is like the chernobyl of advertisments.

HeatVision_and_Jack said...

uh, yah chris... you go do that.
right behind you dude.

C_v_J said...

disposable identity:

you found [or obtained] one of these phreak masks? where is "out there"? you live outside of ontario? secondarily, did the phreak give you specifications as to where to get this?

[do note, i have played along as well, just look at my youtube account]

C_v_J said...


christopher... i was with you on reporting this 'foible' with the fake name on the domain registration... until i did some research on it. it would appear as though we tipped off the phreak... his domain information has changed... not registered to Phil Reaking anymore, or anything similiar... it is now registered as follows;

Registrant Name: Phil Reaking
Organization Info:
Domain Administrator
3rd Floor 322 Water Street

Vancouver, BC V6B 1B6
Phone: 1 604 6333097 (102)

Admin Info:
Domain Administrator
3rd Floor 322 Water Street

Vancouver, BC V6B 1B6
Phone: 1 604 6333097 (102)

Technical Info:
Domain Administrator
3rd Floor 322 Water Street

Vancouver, BC V6B 1B6
Phone: 1 604 6333097 (102)

Billing Info:
Domain Administrator
3rd Floor 322 Water Street

Vancouver, BC V6B 1B6
Phone: 1 604 6333097 (102)

Domain servers in listed order:

the phone number is for a company called, who offers the service of concealing your net identity by registering domains for you... the extension (102) transfers to an individual named Michael Mann [another friggin' MM], who is helpful in no way, and willing to answer no questions...

no dice.

[but look! another interesting example of people playing a game where there's nothing to play... so away we go chasing complete lacks of leeds]

hidesherwings said...

OMG. You boys are sooooo hooked into this. It's not a game. It's advertising. Obviously for the MMVA's and thanks to your tireless efforts it's probably the most successful advertising they've ever done. Hip to the interweb? Obviously the commercial on much is calling us out, and specifically for the ones posting online. I vote pass. Mike McSheen or whatever is hilarious.

Phreak, i want to come to the MMVA's.

Flawed said...

Alright, I've been sitting in the "shadows" about this for some time - not really willing to participate in something that I figured to be an elaborate ruse. I don't take too kindly to having the wool pulled over my eyes.
First of all, cvj - well said, well said. I applaud you and everybody else who's been playing the "game". Here's the thing, though.
I'm not saying that I'm the "first" person to have discovered Phreak615, or anything of the sort. However, I know that I was one of the first people that subscribed to his youtube account, and in doing so - I found something quite interesting, something that perhaps you guys have overlooked, or previously mentioned (I haven't been reading all of your comments).
As I checked out his youtube user page shortly after one of his first videos was posted, I found a youtube account that was subscribed to him and vice-versa (I think). The new account belonged to "TheHackBurgler", and for some reason, I believe this person to be Phreak615. I think it's got to do a lot with the camera being used and the location of THB's videos - seems like it's almost in the same room/house?
Then again, I also agree with those of you who say that this is Devon S. as well.
Just a thought. :)


disposableidentity said...

Calgary. And apparently it was just sitting in the front window of a coffee shop. Staff said it was part of a "scavenger hunt" and to give it to the first person who asked for it.

No note or anything. Of course I wasn't the first person to have my hands on it, so if there was something more, it's not there now.

I'm interested to hear more about the mask that turned up in BC (found by someone over on the Dabbler discussion).

denmax19 said...

Wow, c v j, that was a pretty damn good speech if I say so myself. And I do agree with you very much. And i give you gratitude for this. You have figured pretty much the whole thing out. And so easily. Well done. We all know this is fake. But, It's not like we can stopt it from happening. We know what will go on. And how. So, he tell's us to make pictures for him. So, I have made pictures. I'm not saying the these pictures are true. Because as we all know, there not. But I just decided to have a little fun with them and experiment. C:\Documents and Settings\Sheri\My Documents\My Pictures\GOD2.JPG ---- C:\Documents and Settings\Sheri\My Documents\My Pictures\GOD.JPG

XJ said...

Did you just link to a file on your hard drive? This may come as a shock.... but the internet isn't in your computer.....

It may work better if you post the photos somewhere first... then link to them.

Flawed said...

I'd just like to add to my last comment & point out that in both of the "photoshop" photos that Phreak has provided us with, it looks like he has dark hair similar to that of "TheHackBurgler". (Look for his youtube account. I'm too lazy to provide it. :P)
Maybe it's just me, but I still believe them to be the same person.


C_v_J said...


don't be sexist... and as marketing ploy-ish as it may seem, it doesn't seem that too many of us plan on watching this [hint: it'll be all over youtube on 6/16]


thanks for the info on the mask. the dabbler convo is one i've skipped over largely, for the most part. seems like a good crowd though... was this implied at any point? like, did you know to go and get the mask, or did you just find it?


your concept of hackburgler as the phreak is an interesting one. i've done some research [clinked a link or two ;)] and my educated guess is that it's moreso a staffer signed up for an account and upped something to start the ball rolling. it's too pro for some of these bedroom tweeny douchebags, so it's likely just a plant.

dude's frame is way different from phakezoids...

he was quiet today...
they must be planning away in phreak central.

find that ball you dropped yet, much?

Toad FreakShow said...

I must admit I was captivated by the Phreak early on hopeing just maybe somebody really had the balls to go all out and do something rebellious! Once again I was let down by another half assed marketing scheme. In a world so jaded as our own, you think it'd be easy to have a common voice of rebellion, but they've gone and taken that away from us too!

alexisonfire92 said...

anyone else notice the mention of Alexisonfire in the commercial?? this makes me think and hope that its possible that phreak615 is one of the guys from AOF. Dallas and Wade both of tats all over their arms so theyre out. Steele and Beard other have facial hair so unless they shaved it all points to George Pettit. anyone agree or have anything to add?

Jan said...

I'm quite certain that it is a Much viral marketing scheme probably taken on by an intern because I highly doubt some exec would have the knowledge on how to properly use social media like this.

Also the biggest giveaway has been the production value of the videos, which shows clear signs that it was created in a studio or at least someone with quite advanced video and sound editing skills.

The main reason why I'm in debate with myself whether this is real or not is because Phreak has done a few things that I don't think Much as a brand would want affiliated with them - for one the swearing, it's not anything surprising but such language is usually restricted at most to just jargon/slang or informal speech - they stay away from swear words to avoid any unprofessionalism that may arise once it has been revealed. The other thing is the domain with fake address information, if this really is Much - why wouldn't they just pitch in an extra $5-10 to get whois protection? As it stands currently, the address information is either fake or they have got permission to use that address (possibly one of the employees home, family member, etc).

Warbear64 said...

yeah. totally timmy. is anybody else totally fed up with this douchebag?

C_v_J said...


much paid a company to register the domain name for them... it's called

i can even tell you the person they spoke with to register the account - an individual named michael mann... all of the address and phone number information corresponds with this company.

secondarily, swearing on the web in no way incriminates them any further, nor does it raise any problems for much... it's a blog. even if 'phreak' "works" for much, the second he gets on air, you'll see a quick end to the profanities.

Jan said...

no I didn't mean it as them being liable, but generally they tend to avoid it just to keep the marketing scheme as clean as possible. The domain thing is interesting, was the address given legitimate to someone who works for that company, or was it an arbitrary address given?

All in all judging from the new post, this is clearly viral marketing. I'm proud to say that I don't watch Much Music - I find it extremely low brow, and since I'm not a teen - I don't really feel the need to buy into whatever fashion trend Much is selling.

C_v_J said...

i'm in the same boat as you, jan... i'm just a media savy post-teen who's sick of corporate exploitation of uneducated parties.

the address and phone number are legitimate. i called them [on my free long distance in canada - from rogers -take that bell] and spoke to the individual at the extension [michael mann] who gave me the basic premise of the company, but wouldn't comment on the much situation. he said that it's company policy to not discuss the accounts of their customers. make of it what you will, i guess.