Leisure Marketing: HBO’s “True Blood” Social Launch is “True Genius.”

June 13, 2010

One of 12 True Blood collectible posters only available to Facebook fans

To announce the start of season 3 for the cult cable show True Blood, HBO created a brilliant digital and social strategy that raised the excitement level among loyal Facebook fans to a fever pitch.

You may think HBO overdid it, but True Blood’s 4.8 million Facebook fans didn’t.

The season premier of True Blood, HBO’s hit series about vampires who “come out of the coffin” thanks to a synthetic blood drink called True Blood, opened last night to rave reviews from fans, and loud groans from people who just don’t get it.

The HBO marketing machine saturated the digital world with their blood-red social antics, which stirred their 4.8 million Facebook fan base into a frenzy, and drove the rest of the social world crazy.

Regardless of how feel about the show, if you’re a CMO plotting your next big leisure marketing campaign using social media, this is one of those strategies that is teaching the rest of the online world a much-needed lesson in how to push the boundaries of this emerging medium.

Using random (and unexpected) advocacy websites to re-launch the brand for a new season.

Months before the opening, True Blood Truebies, as HBO likes to call dedicated fans of the show, discovered and chatted incessantly about websites like the The American Vampire League which allowed them to download flyers, banners and t-shirt decals proclaiming their support of Vampire Rights, and featured a whole page of logos of vampire-friendly brands.

There was a site that allowed fans to purchase the beverage that lent the show its name.  HBO even pushed the limits of  traditional digital ad formats with the best pre-iAd rich media ad yet in Variety.com’s iPhone app.

HBO saved some of their best online tactics for Facebook and Twitter.

Creating fresh content for the social media space gave fans a whole other reason to believe. This including:

  • An exclusive series of 12 collectible posters (see above for an example)
  • A Facebook-only Ultimate Truebie contest which gave fans a chance to win $5,000 and host the ultimate Season 3 Finale Party
  • A Twitter-only feed featuring an ultimate fan event staged at 50 theaters across the country
  • Mini webisodes to keep  rabid fans frothing for more
  • And my personal favorite, an hilarious video apology  to the people who complained about over-saturating the web and blogosphere with their digital marketing campaign, which you can see here.

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