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HBO’s Labor of Love

Nov 9, 2008  •  Post A Comment

When the HBO affiliate marketing division was charged with creating an on-demand campaign for their high-profile miniseries “John Adams,” everyone involved knew it was an important project.

“It was a labor of love and a very challenging project to execute. It took a lot to do it and a lot of people worked on it,” said Ashmi Elizabeth Dang, HBO’s associate manager of advanced platform marketing. “It was a Tom Hanks production and it was a very big priority for this company, a first-quarter priority because it was the top title.”

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For HBO, the historic sweep of the miniseries presented a unique challenge in marketing. The subject matter, while based on a Pulitzer Prize-winning biography, was still a hard sell.

The campaign conceived by HBO team has won a first-place award in the CTAM On-Demand/Multiplatform Case Study Competition at Summit ’08, which is a tribute to their efforts and coincides with “John Adams’” recent win of 13 Emmy Awards on 23 nominations, the most Emmys won by a program in a single year.

“What we had hoped for was to create something that would excite the affiliates about what we were doing. I don’t think we were anticipating that the audience would be really big,” Ms. Dang said.

“Speaking of the strategy, rather than relying on them stumbling upon the series, we brought it to them in every possible place the consumer might cross paths with it. That’s probably what made it such a success. We brought it to the people who would like it and would find it.”

The campaign centered on a watch-and-win strategy, utilizing HBO and affiliate video platforms to cross-promote each other. The sweepstakes was an integral component of the campaign, which included an HBO on Demand in HD stunt offering, all seven episodes and supporting content on HBO on Demand, a national HBO/Cinemax and on-demand free preview and a variety of direct marketing tactics to promote the miniseries.

“Doing a cross-platform promotion was what the market demands right now. In terms of marketing, consumers are looking for something that’s engaging and not static. No Web 1.0 experiences,” Ms. Dang said.

“In addition, the affiliates now are so focused on cross-platform strategy and they have so many different touchpoints that offer video that we wanted to do something that would complement their multi-product strategy,” she said.

The “John Adams” campaign surpassed the network’s expectations. “The result was that so many people were excited about the series that as the series progressed and the reviews came out and the ratings were so good, we started looking at the ancillary content to do the promotion,” she said.

In Boston—appropriately, the home of John Adams—the HBO Affiliate Marketing professionals who executed the “John Adams” campaign will present the particulars in the CTAM case-study panel discussion.

“It’s an honor that our peers who are judging, who are doing the same things that we are, can recognize good work,” Ms. Dang said. “I can speak for myself and say it’s an incredible honor to have worked on something so amazing on ‘John Adams.’ I think the company as a whole was so excited by the campaign, and to be recognized for it makes the experience all that much better for us.”

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