HBO and our partner Elastic TV wowed a crowd of dedicated Game of Throne fans during one of the most popular panels of the week at SXSW.
How do you come up with campaign content that holds the attention of “the world’s most deeply immersed fans” for 30 seconds, much less the 5-month-long dark winter between seasons?
How about by taking away the one thing they want most: time to make sense out of the jumbled visions central to the show (#TheSight)?
HBO’s team was willing to risk it. Ominous visions appeared on fan’s phones without warning and disappeared at the end of a single play.
Marketing or Unmarketing?
People disagreed wildly on what they had seen. Would ephemeral visions designed to excite fans just anger them? Or would pushing (negative) buttons increase virality? The latter, in theory.
“People express a lot of hate for Game of Thrones, but it just means they love it that much more,” Jim Marsh, HBO’s Director of Digital & Social Media told the packed Four Seasons ballroom.
But this wasn’t marketing as usually defined. Jim was prepared for the worst. He knew it was important to measure and understand the impact, good or bad.
Melissa Eccles, Creative Director, Immersive Entertainment for Elastic, brought in Bottlenose to measure where the edge of edgy began, peaked, and, quite possibly, drove off a cliff.
The Goal: Authentic and Immersive
Seers on the show can’t pause and replay their jumbled visions. Neither could fans lured into the campaign.
As Melissa shared via our visualizations, Nerve Center® articulated the psychographics of the social bloom of discussion and sharing. At the early staggered releases, shock reigned. But soon audience uploads matched HBO’s haphazard style of distribution.
Fans were quick to figure out it was actually visions, plural, and then they were gone.
Did the Risk Pay Off?
To learn the outcome required new metrics.
“It’s not about how many tweets or volume,” Melissa told the crowd. “It’s about how well you did making the emotional connection that tips people into an immersive state.”
“As you innovate new things, the way you measure needs to evolve.” Jim agreed.
“We used tools from Bottlenose,” Melissa said. Nerve Center proved that the risk paid big dividends.
Adam Blumenfeld, the Bottlenose Director of Client Digital Strategies who ran the project for us, was modest about the achievement. “It’s easy,” he said, “when you can map real human behavior and emotion.”