From the very beginning, USA Network’s Golden Globe & Peabody award winning thriller Mr. Robot has been an exercise in storytelling and masterful marketing innovation.
Prior to its Season 1 debut, the network unleashed it’s most valuable asset nearly 4 months ahead of its linear premiere date by debuting at SXSW and driving sampling across Millennial and technophile skewing Twitch. An unprecedented move by network execs, it eschewed the traditional “marketing blast driving to a Live Linear premier” by instead opting to leverage the very platforms that its series admonishes.
This move was the cornerstone of the long game the series plays; the long game to appeal to the RIGHT viewers and fans, and build a solid foundation of loyal Mr. Robot FANatics that would later help propel this series to USA’s most celebrated series in decades.
So, it came as no surprise when USA Network further broke down the marketing innovation walls by leveraging FB Live to drop its Season 2 premier to the very same loyal fans that tuned into a pre-promoted Live interview with the series stars. About 17 minutes into the Keegan-Michael Key hosted FB Live interview session with series stars Christian Slater, Rami Malek, Portia Doubleday, and Carly Chaikin, the stream went fuzzy. Then fsociety dropped an interruptive bomb, … the season premiere bomb as a “gift” to the loyal believers that earned it.
Fsociety declared that they were done with this press conference – the time for answers we’ve already heard was over. The viewers were informed that their eyes would be opened, that disruption was imminent, and the top 1% of the top 1% hadn’t seen what they were about to see. And then, there was a warning against displayed against spoilers. Because even economy toppling figures hate spoilers.
Watching by the light of my small iPhone screen at 7:25pm ET while putting my 16 month old to bed, I was engrossed in my FB stream, watching the full episode premier of one of my favorite shows, a full 3 days before it even hits the Live Linear waves of USA Network.
While I am a huge supporter and believer in “viewing experiences are better when bigger,” especially for an edge of the seat thriller like Mr. Robot, the tables have now turned. This was a gift and I didn’t care what screen I was watching on. The simple fact that USA Network surprised, delighted, and then held my attention for 70+ minutes on my “small screen” was a move of brilliance by this team.
As the first act of this 2 episode premier came to it’s “intermission” USA further surprised those fans that hung around with a simple message “Spread the word to those you deem worthy”:
An SVOD and Social distribution play that I haven’t seen before, a slow roll out to Video and Social platforms throughout the evening. From big screen Amazon Video, Gen Z/Millennial target Buzzfeed Snapchat Discover Channel (as an ad unit), Twitter’s new Video play, YouTube and even USANetwork.com‘s own sites.
TV Marketing Game Change.
Holding back the rights to pull something like this off once takes a lot of work and belief in your new approach to fan acquisition and marketing in the age we live in. Having the guts to do it TWICE, and at an even bigger and broader scale the second time, means only one thing… TV Marketing has changed forever, and if you don’t leverage the platforms where you know your audiences spend a majority of their time, you can kiss your chances of a Golden Globe goodbye.
Hats off and Masks up to the USA Network & Mr. Robot team. Once again, you’ve changed the game.