You may think you’ve come up with some creative marketing strategies, but you’ve never considered anything like HBO’s digital marketing for the hit show “Westworld.”
For anyone not in the know, Westworld’s story revolves around a theme park of sorts that’s crafted to evoke the real Wild West. There’s a saloon on every corner, the dust blows in the wind and visitors can gun down anyone they please in broad daylight because all the residents are artificial: the animals and the people, too.
This is exactly the kind of programming that lends itself to exciting acts of creation within the digital marketing sphere. HBO’s digital marketing team, Giannusa, is going one step further and taking advantage of every opportunity to marry Westworld with the real world.
Digital marketing is a broad category of advertising that includes digital channels like social media, paid search, search engine optimization, online video, websites and even push notifications and SMS messages. It’s kind of the opposite of print advertising, which is largely static. Digital marketing requires a bit of a different approach, including being able to define and then monitor data points to improve campaign performance.
Westworld’s team has gone far beyond the call of duty by integrating show elements into digital campaigns and digital elements into the show itself. These are meant to be puzzles and clues for the diehard fanbase. What they’ve created is something that may be an entirely new type of marketing, where the already fuzzy lines between Internet and real life break down even further.
Westworld’s Marketing Mixes Reality and Digital for Truly Engaged Watchers
According to eMarketer’s US Simultaneous Media Users report, as much as 81 percent of television viewers are actively second screening while they’re watching TV. That means that 177.7 million American adults are using their phones, tablets or other devices while watching their favorite programs. This is the magic that Giannusa has tapped into.
Knowing that their watchers are second screening meant that the team at HBO could start sending secret messages and Easter eggs to fans with smartphones already in hand. Naturally, the super fans would be the first to notice something was different and go digging for answers. As those puzzles were spread on social media, they’d be solved, only to lead to more clues.
Further down the rabbit hole it goes. Some of these bonuses are simply trivia types of content, but others, like a preview of Shogun World, mimic real travel planning sites like a visitor to Disney might see when exploring the park online. Users can explore both the original Westworld park and the upcoming Shogun World, or look at all Delos Destinations has to offer on the company’s immersive website. Aeden the Delos chatbot is standing by to help answer all the burning questions that a visitor might have.
Coordinating Digital Marketing and Television Production
One of the absolutely best parts of the Westworld digital marketing campaign is how tightly knit the various websites, Easter eggs and so forth are to the current television content. Giannusa and HBO have gone to great lengths to ensure that the television writers are available and able to help the marketing copywriters and designers ensure a smooth transition from the television screen to mobile devices.
Every new trick is choreographed from the beginning, there’s nothing left to chance. Westworld fans are now scrutinizing every screen, every behind the scenes video shared on social, every poster for clues to more information about the universe in which the show takes place.
This is a massive level of engagement as a result of extremely clever design. Westworld fans are as interested in their program’s world as Star Trek fans have been for decades. This not only creates the potential for more programming for years to come, but more ways for the franchise to expand, both online and off.