Taking viral marketing literally, Participant Media today unveiled its social action campaign about real-life pandemics. The educational initiative is tied to the Steven Soderbergh movie Contagion, a thriller which opens Sept. 9. Among the features are an interactive experience, an informative Facebook game, an animated video and more.

The project is the latest demonstration of Participant’s philosophy of raising awareness through popular entertainment. This new campaign is designed to provide a look into the world of pandemics and to share information about the precautions the average person can take to protect themselves and their loved ones.

“We want to provide answers to the kinds of questions audiences will have after seeing the film about what can be done to prepare for an actual global pandemic, and we want to celebrate the work of epidemiologists, the real-life virus hunters who risk their lives to save our lives,” said Liana Schwarz, Participant Media’s senior vice president Social Action & Advocacy.

An original video – created to be shared, um, virally – takes an offbeat look at the science behind viruses and pandemics. It is designed to drive visitors to Participant’s interactive knowledge center, where they will meet five present-day scientists who study the infectious agents that could lead to future pandemics. Other content explains five viral pandemics that changed the world, while quizzes and facts challenge prevalent myths about viruses. In addition, Participant in collaboration with Warner Bros. created a Facebook game that educates as it mimics the way a virus spreads from person to person.

Contagion, from Warner Bros. Pictures, Participant Media and Imagenation Abu Dhabi, was directed by Steven Soderbergh. Its cast includes Marion Cotillard, Matt Damon, Laurence Fishburne, Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Winslet (pictured), Bryan Cranston, Jennifer Ehle and Sanaa Lathan.

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Promotional photo of Kate Winslet courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures