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Best Experiential Marketing Campaigns: What the Streaming Giants are Doing Right

Category: Ideas, Strategy, Work

Most of us these days have cut the cable cord and waved goodbye to our satellite dishes for the ease of online streaming services. What’s not to like about them?  If anything, there may be too many choices for shows and movies to watch, and the industry is only growing. Netflix, Amazon, Hulu – these are household names at this point and it’s not by luck. These companies are pouring billions (that’s nine zeros!) of dollars into their marketing budgets for 2019.

It’s not just content consumption that sets streaming services apart from their network competition. They’re also changing the face of tv and film marketing. Here are three of the best experiential marketing campaigns that prove these streaming giants know what they’re doing.

Netflix & the Portable Pop-Up      

The Sandra Bullock blockbuster Bird Box is all about not seeing, not looking at what’s in front of you because if you do look, well, you’re dead. From a marketing standpoint, that presents an odd challenge: How do you capture the terror – and the excitement – if you’re not supposed to look?

Netflix came to the MC² Experiential Studio, and Executive Creative Director Richard Sears and Senior Creative Producer Melissa Beery knew right away that the most provocative way to engage the audience was to have them experience what the characters experience in the film. Marrying traditional advertising with an immersive experience, MC² created a moving billboard/portable pop-up experience by wrapping a double decker bus in Bird Box imagery and hiding the safe house inside. Check out our video below and see it for yourself. 

Participants lined up, blindfolded – like the characters in the film – and led onto the bus. Once inside with blindfolds off, a series of “jump scares” thrilled the participants letting them identify with the unfolding terror of the movie itself.

The mobile pop-up frightened thousands of participants in multiple locations in Los Angeles and Austin. Hundreds of thousands of social media posts spread the word about the film. The film itself? It was Netflix’s most successful film ever, with over 45 million viewers in the first week alone.

Nostalgia Works: Amazon Studios Revives the Dead

When the famed Carnegie Deli shut its doors in 2016, the whole of New York City wept at the loss of the 79 year-old institution (we still think about their pastrami on a regular basis). So imagine the delight of the Big Apple when it learned the deli would reopen for over a week in December 2018.

To promote the second season of the Emmy-winning series The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Amazon Prime completely recreated the iconic deli in a downtown location. Every detail of the deli was carefully considered and constructed in order to whisk diners back to 1958, the same time period of the show. Cue the waves of nostalgia to the golden days of yesteryear NYC.

The best part? The team whipped up a new pastrami sandwich, the Midge, named for Mrs. Maisel, which they advertised as “worth the schlep.”Nostalgia worked; the ticketed pop-up was completely sold out for the entirety of its run and the show’s already scheduled third season.

Big Con Means Big Opportunities for Hulu

It’s no secret that both SXSW and Comic Con are hotbeds for experiential activations. The past few years, Hulu has taken advantage of the captive, eager audiences at both shows. Their most successful series, The Handmaids Tale, has been a staple for the past two SXSW festivals, with handmaidens stalking the street of Austin one year and the next, the now-iconic red frocks worn by the characters set “aflame” at installations throughout the city.

At the 2018 San Diego ComicCon – a con with almost a quarter million attendees – Hulu upped their creep-out game by teasing to their new Stephen King-inspired, JJ Abrams-produced psychological thriller series, Castle Rock. That King-Abrams creative mash-up alone is enough to send chills up your spine, and then Hulu decided to build a disturbing bed & breakfast across the street from the convention center for guests to check into…and maybe not check out of. We’re only kidding, but the immersive, haunted-house-style, get-the-crap-scared-out-of-you experience drew lines each day with waits of over two hours.

Hulu reported that Castle Rock had the most successful first season of original content and it has already renewed for a season two. Streaming competition is fierce and only getting fiercer: in fact, Disney is about to break into the market, too, with its streaming service Disney + set to launch in late 2019. AT&T and Apple are prepping to dive in, too, so we can only expect bigger, better, more engaging activations as these streaming giants face more competition from their rivals for our attention.

Want to set your brand apart with a killer activation? Drop us a line and let’s gets started on an unforgettable experience.    

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Caroline Meyers
Director MC² Corporate Communications