The Top 6 Most Badass Publicity Campaigns in TV & Movies

If you read our previous blog post about the Top 10 Best Ways to Promote Films & TV Shows, it’s a safe bet that you now have some cool & fun ideas for your next marketing campaign for a new TV series or film.

But when it comes to publicity campaigns, there’s a major difference between piquing your audience’s interest & really making the fans you want, stand up and take notice. We might have already covered a few of them (see: Publicity Stunt from Top 10 Ways to Promote Films), but there are a few other awesome publicity campaigns that deserve recognition for how they push the envelope and generally for how badass they are.

So without further ado, here are top 6 of the most badass publicity campaigns in the history of TV & movies!

  1. Friends Don’t Drink Friends for True Blood

The legendary HBO vampire TV show based on the bestselling novel series The Southern Vampire Mysteries by Charlaine Harris really hit the ground running with their initial publicity campaign.

The series first made influential horror bloggers all across the country sit up and take notice when they mailed them cryptic letters containing vials of the synthetic Tru Blood. It also gave them access to an exclusive vampires-only website announcing the ‘coming out’ of vampires into the real world.

Next came the billboards and bus shelter ads advertising Tru Blood products with the familiar slogans like “Friends Don’t Let Friends Drink Friends”. Audiences were hooked and the rest, as they say, was vampire history.

 

  1. Breaking News for Independence Day

By now, we’ve all heard the infamous 1938 War of the Worlds broadcast (and if you haven’t, The Simpsons parodies it pretty well) where the people were convinced we were actually being invaded by aliens. Well fast forward 58 years later, where Independence Day took it one step further.

The marketing Powers That Be behind the film created a 30 minute news broadcast, complete with a breaking news report of aliens invading. The report was intercut with footage from the film, making it look so realistic that some viewers actually called 911 in a panic.

 

  1. Chart-Topping Hit for The Monkees

As we now know, The Monkees never were a real band. But in 1966, there was a confusing conundrum: the band’s first single “Last Train to Clarksville” was on the radio and moving up the charts; so how could the band be fake?

It was a brilliant move by the show’s producers to blur the line between reality & fiction. By the time the show made it to air 2 months later in Sept. 1966, the single-and the band-was a number #1 hit. By November, the band had a #1 single, the #1 album and one of the hottest TV shows on the air.

 

  1. A Final Send Off Worthy of the Ages for Breaking Bad

What’s the best way to promote the final 8 episodes of a ground-breaking hit show like Breaking Bad? How about creating an ad that doesn’t feature any of the main characters?

The teaser promo features a voiceover by series star Bryan Cranston reading ‘Ozymandias’, by Percy Shelley, set to images of New Mexico that include Breaking Bad‘s familiar RV. It ends with the image of Cranston’s famous Heisenberg hat lying in the desert.

Did it work? Well, the show received its highest ratings ever for the final 8 episodes. So, yes, I’d say it worked.

 

  1. Missing Persons Reports Filed for The Blair Witch Project

Arguably the one film that grandfathered the ‘found footage’ concept in movies, The Blair Witch Project came up with an ingenious way to promote the project. The marketing team claimed that the entire situation was REAL. They created missing persons posters for the three actors (who never made public appearances) who were presumed missing and dead and even hung them up around the Sundance Film Festival.

The end result? It was the most successful movie hoax in history-The Blair Witch Project grossed $250 million on a $22,000 budget and popularized the horror mockumentary/found footage genre.

 

  1. Talking Heads About Zombies for The Walking Dead

– Talking Dead _ Season 6, Episode 16 – Photo Credit: Jordin Althaus/AMC

A show after the show you just watched where people sit around and talk about the characters you just saw on screen? The ‘after show’ is one of the most brilliant publicity concepts ever. It’s an advertisement but one that allows people to chat (and tweet) about their favorite show.

Talking Dead, hosted by legendary geek Chris Harwick, the after show for AMC’s hit zombie apocalypse The Walking Dead is a great example of this. It’s a fun discussion of all the current and past storylines & characters and even has a ton of cool features like the In Memoriam montage segment that pays tribute to characters lost that week. It’s both disgusting and hilarious all at the same time.

Love my features on film & TV publicity? Keep your eyes peeled here for more awesome posts on everything from unit publicity to tips on marketing and social media!

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