‘Tentpole-level marketing’: HBO Max’s Steven Cardwell on promoting House of the Dragon, Discovery+ merger

The streaming wars could typically resemble their very own model of Sport of Thrones, with fiefdoms battling it out for video dominance. The most recent salvo is the brand new “Home Of The Dragon” sequence, which HBO Max vp of Originals Advertising Steven Cardwell described because the service’s largest marketing campaign but. (Though he wouldn’t disclose prices, the advertising and marketing funding is reportedly nearly three times larger than any earlier “Sport Of Thrones” sequence, with media spend valued at more than $100 million.)

Along with the same old promoting throughout TV, social media, billboards, and different internet advertising, the brand new sequence — which debuted final week — has quite a lot of partnerships with DuoLingo and Snapchat together with a brand new augmented actuality app that lets customers prepare a digital dragon and watch it develop all through the sequence.

Digiday caught up with Cardwell to speak about how advertising and marketing for the present has developed, the technique for shorter advertising and marketing home windows and the influence of the deliberate Discovery+ merger.

How is advertising and marketing for “Home Of The Dragon” completely different than the way you’ve marketed “Sport Of Thrones” seasons prior to now?

The world is so much completely different than it was in 2019. HBO Max didn’t exist, for starters. What we got down to do realizing that HBO Max is a world platform was attempt to make this marketing campaign as far-reaching and world as attainable, at first. The factors with which we evaluated all of our partnerships and promotions have been, will this scale globally? Is that this going to broaden the viewers exterior of the U.S.? Although we all know there are scores of Sport of Thrones followers internationally, actually needed to carry them into the advertising and marketing marketing campaign.

How so?

A number of that went into guaranteeing that the AR app we developed, for instance, was accessible globally. In our partnership with Snapchat, we’re partnering with world creators to create particular markers everywhere in the world, with the concept of driving type of this huge cultural world second round this present. So it’s simply been actually cool to see the English language not even dominating the Twitter dialog for this sequence.

I learn stories of the advertising and marketing funds for “Home Of The Dragon” being a lot bigger than another “Sport Of Thrones” season. Why is that and the way is that this yr completely different?

I can’t clearly converse to the precise numbers, however I can say it was the largest marketing campaign and positively delivered. It was the largest premiere in HBO’s historical past so it’s thrilling to see that correlation, however the core tenets stay the identical. We’re extra fractured in our viewing habits now. There are much more streamers and there’s simply extra competitors for eyeballs and it’s exhausting to create these huge tentpole, monolithic, cultural moments. That simply requires tentpole-level advertising and marketing to essentially generate that demand and pleasure for the franchise.

The opposite a part of that is we’re a part of a brand new firm with Warner Bros. Discovery and we’re capable of actually lean in closely on all the brand new promotional levers we by no means had entry to prior to now. So the entire portfolio of the Discovery Networks’ channels, but additionally bringing collectively all the iconic manufacturers beneath Warner Bros. Discovery, from “Mates” to “American Dad” to elite wrestling. It’s a fairly large laundry record.

On the earnings call earlier this month, executives talked about advertising and marketing home windows being shorter lately. How does that change the best way you promote?

We observe a extra conventional theatrical mannequin with this marketing campaign … In a world like this, it’s a sign to shoppers that there’s a huge occasion coming, and it takes a really properly orchestrated type of construct to get to that premiere — and there’s a longer tail you have to begin to lay these breadcrumbs.

Because it pertains to different campaigns, there’s only a lot on the market and in case you begin every thing a year-and-a-half out it could drive most shoppers loopy. Individuals, after they hear about one thing, [they] need to have the ability to instantly take motion on it and go watch it. A unusual comedy just isn’t going to have this lengthy lead marketing campaign, however I don’t know if there’s something revolutionary on this fashion. It was virtually identical to a hark again to the normal film tentpole mannequin. … It’s not one thing you’ll be able to condense to a two-week interval.

How have new plans to merge HBOMax and Discovery+ modified your advertising and marketing technique total throughout numerous reveals? I noticed the information final week of dozens of reveals together with many originals being minimize.

We’re nonetheless figuring all of it out. “Home of the Dragon” is a best-in-case use case state of affairs for a way we will be as far-reaching as attainable, and using all the channels we personal. There’s simply much more alternatives for that crossover potential. Within the earnings name, as [Warner Bros. president/CEO David Zaslav] had talked about, we needed to do high quality content material.

And with that, if there’s much less stuff on the platform, we are able to make investments extra within the stuff that’s driving viewership, driving that type of cultural zeitgeist of those huge tentpole moments. So the funding in “Home of the Dragon” was actually huge for that purpose — this concept of making advertising and marketing that matches the scale and the dimensions of those productions, and that’s as revolutionary and large and premium as what followers anticipate from the sequence themselves.

‘Tentpole-level marketing’: HBO Max’s Steven Cardwell on promoting House of the Dragon, Discovery+ merger

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