I conceptualized and designed the entirety of this campaign between June 24th and July 5th during the second application phase of HBO's 2016 Digital & Social Media Fellowship.
Over the course of these ten days I conducted market and user research, conceptualized and refined the campaign's structure and timeline, designed and mocked up the campaign's visuals, created a clickable app prototype, and built a pitch deck.
Social Media Marketing • Content Strategy • Research
Visual Design • Prototyping • Usability • Copywriting
HBO's Digital & Social Media Fellowship is a 12-month early career incubator that allows fellows to work and learn alongside HBO's award-winning digital marketing team. The fellowship's nationwide call produces thousands of applicants from recent-grads with backgrounds or interests in digital marketing. The latter being the case for me, I was immediately enthralled with the opportunity and labored over the essay required in the initial application.
Applicants that moved on to the second phase were given a "creative multimedia challenge", which allotted 10 days to submit a piece of content that used digital spaces creatively. We were given the option to submit preexisting content or create something new specifically for the prompt.
My essay, which can be read by clicking the image below, focused on the thesis that success in social media marketing can be largely attributed to the symbiosis of the analytical and the creative. I also asserted that I was no stranger to this concept as a user experience designer, and that the best work in my field embodies a similar synthesis.
Since my essay was seemingly well received, my objective for the second phase was to put its thesis into action. I opted to construct a social media marketing campaign for an HBO product or service. The goal was to showcase an engaging and imaginative campaign idea that was substantiated by analysis and data.
Researching HBO's prevailing business goals would result in more suitable goals for my campaign. I didn't just want it to be about HBO, I wanted it to feel like it was created by HBO. This required a thorough analysis of HBO's digital brand and marketing strategies. It would also convey to HBO that I understand their existing methodologies and can conceptualize within them.
Digital Marketing Considerations
Since my degree was in Graphic Design and my work experience was primarily the same, I would be treading new water with a digital marketing campaign. To achieve the end result I wanted in 10 days, it was crucial to acclimate myself to industry strategies and trends.
The following section displays my submission for the second application phase of HBO's 2016 Digital and Social Media Fellowship. I've revised the formatting to fit this page, but the content is completely unaltered and is exactly what I produced and submitted in the allotted 10 days.
HBO Digital & Social Media Selection Committee,
A little over a year removed from its initial plunge into the video streaming market, HBO Now has seen a steady climb in its user base. Numbers from earlier in the year placed the subscriber count close to 1,000,000, and Game of Thrones viewership via HBO Now saw a year-over-year increase of 70%
The streaming platform's growth is certainly impressive, and even more so when you consider the fact that HBO has been placing their primary focus on developing programming for the service rather than heavily marketing it—a strategy that is likely about to pay off.
For the past year, HBO Now has been quietly building an expansive arsenal of established titles, opening the door for many opportunities to leverage existing fan bases for promotion. The service is also sitting on a smorgasbord of upcoming HBO-exclusive original content: Westworld, Vice Principals, and Divorce, among others.
"We have not turbo-charged the direct marketing such as we will in the coming months," said HBO CEO Richard Plepler back in March.
As an outsider looking in, it seems that HBO Now has reached the crest of its buildup wave and is on the verge of a significant marketing push. Plepler also cited the HBO Now streaming service as a millennial missile in April of 2015, and there's no reason to believe that target demographic has changed.
The digital world will soon be seeing a steady influx of HBO Now marketing. With a lengthy list of content at their disposal, many opportunities exist for creative campaigns that not only continue, but accelerate the upswing of HBO Now in the streaming market.
For the second phase of the fellow-selection-process, I conceived and developed a digital marketing campaign for HBO Now.
Based on the analysis above, I defined the goals of the campaign. It was important to outline goals with tangible, measurable success.
+ HBO Now
+ HBO Now App DLs
Once I established the goals of the campaign, the next question became: Which HBO content caters to these goals?
Since the announcement of his deal with HBO, there has been a quiet, tremulous internet buzz about Jon Stewart's return to the screen. All information about the show has been kept close to the vest, piquing an excited interest in his expansive fan base. Given the current political landscape, these scarcity marketing tactics have created a social media volcano that bubbles more and more each day as we await the fiery internet eruption that will be his return.
Moreover, Stewart's existing fan base is significantly millennial. Imagine the digital delirium if his show is announced in a grand-reveal fashion on a millennial-flagship social media platform. The reveal would invoke and steer Stewart's digital hype, similar to how the #RoastJoffrey campaign invoked and steered the already-happening online discussion about hating GoT's Joffrey.
Stewart's young audience will be itching for a unified way to talk about the reveal and his long-awaited return. Additionally, OTOY working with Stewart on the development of his show presents many opportunities to use these platforms in unique ways.
HBO Is Subtly Hyping Stewart's Show
In a promotional video uploaded last week, a powerful closing sequence showcases 23 HBO titles in under ten seconds. Blink and you'll miss it—the video saves what may be the most highly-anticipated name for last: Jon Stewart.
To induce millennial engagement, the campaign will utilize the digital platforms that are most ubiquitous among millennials: Snapchat to stage a reveal of Stewart's show title and premiere date, and Instagram for additional HBO Now content and app promotion.
Snapchat and Instagram components will present an opportunity to target Stewart's millennial-heavy fan base in digital spaces they're already occupying, thus fulfilling all three campaign goals.
Why Snapchat and Instagram?
Snapchat boasts 150,000,000 daily active users and is used by of 76% of millennials. Additionally, HBO has discussed utilizing Snapchat's Discover feature before, meaning its usage would likely align with HBO's existing marketing strategies.
As for Instagram, 32% of USA teenagers cited it as their most important social network—a higher percentage than any other social network. Facebook, for example, received 14%.
1. Promote Upcoming Announcement
Location: HBO Social Media Channels
On the campaign launch date, HBO's social media accounts will use #HBOUnveil to collectively tease an upcoming announcement that will occur exclusively on HBO's Snapchat Discover page. It's important that the announcement is hyped up as much as possible, as the campaign's success will heavily rely on the buildup of curiosity, suspense, and predictions.
2. Jon Stewart Show Reveal
Location: HBO Snapchat Discover Page
When the #HBOUnveil date arrives, the vastly-hyped HBO sequence will launch on Snapchat's Discover page. The video sequence will consists of several parts from the perspective of an unknown individual. At the end of the sequence, the person will be revealed as Jon Stewart and his show title and premiere date will be displayed, along with a reference to its availability on HBO Now.
3. Instagram Call-to-Action
Location: HBO Snapchat Discover Page
The final post of the #HBOUnveil Snapchat Discover sequence will be mostly-or-entirely graphic and will encourage users to follow @HBONow on Instagram for a chance to win a free subscription to HBO Now.
4. HBO Now Subscription Giveaway
The primary role of the @HBONow instagram page, which does not yet exist, will be to promote HBO Now's content catalog. It will also incorporate a fun, recurring giveaway element that allows users frequent chances to win subscriptions to HBO Now. The giveaway element will be specifically structured to require the HBO Now app to participate.
1. Promote Upcoming Announcement
2. JON STEWART SHOW REVEAL
Once the #HBOUnveil video sequence is posted to the Discover page, users will be able to click through and view its entirety. In collaboration with OTOY and Snapchat, the sequence will be viewable as a 360° panorama. Viewers will be able to move their devices to observe each video's environment.
The sequence will begin from the perspective of an individual in a backstage dressing room, who, unbeknownst to the viewer, is Jon Stewart. He'll begin walking through the backstage area, potentially passing other HBO actors and actresses (they could even be in character) as he proceeds towards his show's set.
Once Jon arrives at the set, someone will indicate that the show is about to begin. At this point the video will switch to a fixed perspective that reveals Jon's identity to the viewer. Jon will recite a line, and the overlayed #HBOUnveil will be replaced with Stewart's #ShowTitle and premiere date.
3: INSTAGRAM call-to-action
Immediately after the Jon Stewart reveal, a final call-to-action will instruct users to follow @HBONow on Instagram for daily HBO Now subscription giveaways. This will be the conclusion to the #HBOUnveil Snapchat Discover sequence.
If the marketing leading up to the Snapchat component is successful, #HBOUnveil will yield a high viewership with an ostensibly-large overlap of Instagram users. This combined with the frequency of the HBO Now subscription giveaways should provide a sizeable upswing in Instagram engagement for @HBONow.
"Jon Stewart's new show is premiering on HBO Now?! I should look into that! Wait, they give away free subscriptions every day on Instagram? I have an Instagram account, I should look into that too!"
4. HBO Now Subscription Giveaway
The @HBONow Instagram account will post a new photo or video each day, each containing a small HBO Now "subscription code" hidden somewhere within it.
The first person to find the code and enter it in the designated area on the HBO Now app will win a free subscription to HBO Now (the duration of the subscription is at HBO's discretion).