Brand: True Blood (HBO)
Target: The Vampire Obsessed
Reviewer: David Vinjamuri
To promote the new series “True Blood,” HBO drafted the agency Campfire to create an elaborate insider campaign.Â Campfire sent 1,000 elaborate direct mailer pieces in May to vampire bloggers and “science fiction geeks” ( a good description of the program is on AdAge).Â The mailer featured a message in an invented ancient language.Â A few of the addressees had the necessary language or cryptography skills to translate the language (no Rosetta Stone needed, apparently) and it led them to a website, www.bloodcopy.com.Â The website featured a gatekeeper (an actress) who would grant access only to those deemed “true vampires” after video chats.Â She was instructed to be difficult to crack into, not easy.
Brands often think that their task is to make it easy for everyone to find them.Â For years Coca-Cola focused on the slogan “within an arm’s reach of desire” – the idea being to make Coke so easy to find that it was ubiquitous.Â With the brand equity and resources of Coca-Cola, this might not be a bad idea, but it fails for many other brands.Â HBO and Campfire take the opposite tack, one which resonates much more deeply with human nature: make it really, really tough to get inside and they will come.Â They have harnessed the power of exclusivity.
What is brilliant about this campaign is that it is so focused, so precise and not at all interested in making sure that 99% of the target audience gets the message directly from the brand.Â It offers a real challenge and doesn’t shrink from sustaining that challenge once the interested have found the brand (on the website).Â There is real attention to detail in this campaign that gives it authenticity.
The results have been impressive – lots of youtube activity, press coverage and huge anticipation for the series.
Was it J. Walter Thompson who said “Great advertising can kill a brand”?Â The series really needs to live up to the promotion or HBO might find the well is dry the next time around.
Branding Bottom Line:
Campfire spins a tale that makes HBO go bump in the night.