With Easter just around the corner, there's no better time to celebrate our pick of the most satisfying 'Easter eggs' from the world of entertainment.
The tradition of hiding secret 'Easter eggs' within entertainment media has been around for decades. An Easter egg is an inside joke, pop culture reference or hidden feature designed to delight and bring a real sense of achievement to the fans that discover them. The first known one was created in 1979 by a frustrated programmer who hid his name inside a secret room within the Atari 2600 video game, Adventure, in order to credit his creation. Today, Easter eggs can be found across all forms of entertainment media and increasingly in consumer products as well.
Here are some of our favourites from the world of TV and movies.
Netflix embedded an Easter egg within the poster image for Stranger Things Season 2. When the user hovered over and clicked on the hotspot, their Netflix UI flipped upside down, presenting a weird, eerie recreation of the ‘Upside Down’ world from the show.
Episode 6 from Season 1 of the hit HBO show featured a brief glimpse of a 'host' with an uncanny likeness to Yul Brynner's gunslinger character from the original 1973 Westworld film.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Google and Warner Bros partnered to promote the Harry Potter spin-off movie, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, by allowing fans to cast spells via their Android phones. Just say 'OK Google' followed by 'Lumos' or 'Nox' to turn their torch on and off. 'Silencio' silences the phone's ringer and notifications. The experience has also been rolled out to Google Home smart speakers and more 'spells' are due to go live soon.
This YouTube web series, based on The Karate Kid film series, featured several Easter eggs on its channel page. Desktop users were greeted with a 'Wax On' animation (on video pause) or 'Wax Off' animation (on video unpause) in the lower right-hand corner of the frame. Users were also able to see the famous crane kick on the progress bar of every Cobra Kai video.
Over the years, Google has released a number of cool Easter eggs on its maps service featuring amongst others, the Loch Ness Monster, Super Mario and Stig from Top Gear. Their most famous Easter egg featured Doctor Who's Tardis, which mysteriously appeared outside Earl’s Court in Street View back in 2013. The iconic blue telephone box became a clickable hotspot enabling fans to explore a perfect recreation of the time machine's interior.
GAME OF THRONES
Showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss had to make a public apology after fans noticed a decapitated head on a spike prop that bore a striking resemblance to former US president George W. Bush.
It’s no secret that director J.J. Abrams is a huge fan of Star Wars, but you probably weren’t expecting R2-D2 to make an appearance in his reboot of the Star Trek movie franchise. During a scene in which the USS Enterprise passes around Vulcan, none other than everyone's favourite droid is glimpsed floating amongst the debris. R2-D2 would also return in the 2013 sequel Star Trek Into Darkness, where he was briefly seen getting sucked out of the ship when the Enterprise was under attack.
There’s been a lot of a debate about Charlie Brooker’s latest creation, the Black Mirror film Bandersnatch - is it a film or a game? What's undeniable is that it's a game changer for interactive entertainment. The experience has a number of Easter eggs but the geekiest was the inclusion of the actual Nohzdyve videogame featured in the film. Inquisitive viewers recognised the distinctive tape loading noise of a ZX Spectrum during the end credits. Intrigued, a superfan sampled the audio and recorded it onto tape which, when loaded on a revived ZX Spectrum, revealed a QR code. When scanned, the fan was taken to a hidden Tuckersoft website where they could play a full working version of the game.
THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE
Since series creator Mike Flanagan said: "We don't call any attention to them, but they're there", fans have been watching and re-watching the Netflix series The Haunting of Hill House to spot the dozens of creepy ghosts and imposing ghouls sprinkled throughout. Often hidden in plain sight lurking in doorways, behind curtains and under furniture, their presence isn't always consciously noted but undoubtedly adds to the eerie atmosphere maintained throughout the series.
Many have argued that this Easter egg is either an ingenious tribute to an iconic coffee brand or a blatant example of product placement - we'll let you decide. Since director David Fincher revealed that there are Starbucks coffee cups hidden in every scene of his 1999 masterpiece Fight Club, fans have painstakingly trawled through the movie frame-by-frame searching for them. The hunt has generated huge social buzz and even spawned its own Tumblr page. Interestingly, Fincher is a known trickster and similar Easter eggs are waiting to be discovered within some of his other movies.
Savvy marketers have already hooked onto the Easter egg phenomenon, recognising that they are much more than a fun distraction for consumers. They can help humanise a brand, driving deeper engagement with their content, products and services. So when you are next launching a campaign, or building a website or app, make sure you don’t forget to include a few surprises for your fans to uncover.
Happy Easter and happy hunting!
Bharat Trivedi, Technical Director