Mystery Marketing: How brands are implementing cryptic marketing strategies

Storytelling is one of the main marketing buzzwords to date. We’ve burned it into our minds that we must craft the best relevant storyline for our brands and campaigns. We must be clear, slightly but mostly direct, and there should be no mystery as to what story we are trying to tell.

But should it always be so clear?

Should our marketing messages always be clearly defined, easily understood by our target audience?

While most stories need to be clear and transparent to be understood, sometimes breaking the mold can encourage even more buzz around your brand and campaign.

Mystery strokes the fires of Word of Mouth marketing, it fuels our curious needs and need to share new information with other. No one talks about things people already know, but something only a few select people know about? You’ll be jumping at the chance to let people know about your new knowledge, and so will your consumers.

We even have local mysteries of our own to solve. Let’s take a look at an example.

La Vista, hiding behind 12 + 16, or 28?

It is all about storytelling, just more about being more cryptic and vague about your marketing messages. While some people may turn away, most will enjoy the challenge. This is why crossword puzzles and find the word games are still popular and have become classically beloved pastimes.

Residential and Resort developer LA Vista has created a lot of buzz lately with their new “12 + 16” mystery campaign. The mysterious campaign is already published on Social Media and spread across nearly 70 outdoor billboards covering greater Cairo & Ain Sokhna road as well.

While creating a viral cryptic marketing campaign can seem an evasive goal, the developer has recently dropped a mysterious post with the numbers 12 + 16, and people have been trying to figure it out since.

Can you guess?

Posted by La Vista Developments on Tuesday, April 3, 2018


A simple post, the image of the world in the brand’s signature blue and the numbers, 12 + 16.

There are already so many questions to ask. Why is the image of the world at night and focusing on the light we emit? What is 12 + 16? 28? What does it all mean?

The mystery is a foot, and commenters have asked the questions and have made their own theories.


People need to know, and La Vista seems happy to keep us in the dark until their plan has hatched completely.


Unlocking the mystery of number 28

A simple conclusion would be that it is all focusing on the number 28.

Could it simply mean something will happen in exactly 28 days? The 28th of April? A new announcement or release, maybe even a new resort plan unveiling.

We could delve deeper into the number as well.

Could they mean the curing time of concrete? Which is 28 days.

2028? Could they be planning far into the future?

The Arabic alphabet, which contains 28 letters. Could this be a new compound or area that will focus on 28 sections, or be named using each letter?

If you like dominos, you’d know that there are 28 blocks in a standard set. Maybe La Vista simply likes dominos?

The Chinese zodiac contains 28 animals as well.

If we focus more locally, inside the Great Pyramid, 28 miniature tombs are sculpted in the “wall of stone” of the Great Gallery.

There is a large number of possibilities that could be what La Vista is aiming at, but the developer, who has developed properties such as La Vista Bay and El Patio, is keeping silent about their plans.

Cryptic Marketing Strategies

Key marketing messages can be like a cryptic puzzle. The obscurity and vagueness lead to organic conversations by consumers trying to get answers, or to share theories with each other. It doesn’t even need to be extreme, simply stopping the continuous range of similar marketing messages is already enough to get people talking.

Of course, this is not to say that marketers should devise campaigns that are riddled with obscurity in a blind attempt to start a conversation among customers. Rather, mindful obscurity — cryptic messaging done with a distinct and specific purpose — can be quite successful in establishing organic conversation.

When promoting their new game, Titanfall, Microsoft accidentally (or was it?) created a new community for gamers. The computer giant publishes a series of ads, which would end in binary code. Gamers and non-gamers alike jumped forward to solve the mystery of the code.

According to Gamespot, “the binary code led users to several websites … where you can find the terms and condition for the ‘Glitch Contest.’” Participants in the contest were eligible to win such as prizes…”

The campaign created a giant online conversation about the mysterious codes and built a dedicated legion of loyal fans that built a community to solve the mystery.

What do you think it could be? Put on your thinking hat and let us know of your theories in the comments section.

Think Marketing

Knowledge Hub Specialized in Publishing Insights and Analytics Developed for Digital Marketing, Public Relations and Communications Experts.