HBO uses partnerships and media for Boardwalk Empire launch

NEW YORK: HBO linked up with Bloomingdale's, Harrah's, and Canadian Club whisky and invested in media relations and social media to promote its new series Boardwalk Empire.

NEW YORK: HBO linked up with Bloomingdale's, Harrah's, and Canadian Club whisky and invested in media relations and social media to promote its new series Boardwalk Empire.

The Atlantic City-based series brings the 1920's Prohibition era to life and the partnerships include a replica of a boardwalk set up on the sidewalk of Bloomingdale's in New York, a premiere event and rooms available for $19.20 a night in Caesars Atlantic City, and events in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles hosted by Canadian Club whisky. Each company is also doing its own outreach and additional marketing includes advertisements on print, television, and bus shelters in major cities.

"PR is an integral part of any campaign to tell viewers about a new series," said Tobe Becker, VP of media relations for HBO. Starting more than a year ago, HBO reached out to reporters, inviting them to visit the giant boardwalk set in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Media were able to interview producers, costume designer, and other crew members, and HBO provided a two-minute time-lapse video showing how the set was constructed.

The network also did traditional outreach, including providing screeners of the pilot and going on the Television Critics Association Tour in July. Meanwhile, the corporate communications team worked with marketing on the partnerships, along with its agency Civic Entertainment.

The team also "collaborates with marketing very carefully with talent outreach," and works with PR agency 42West, which represents the show's producer and sometimes-director Martin Scorsese, Becker said.

"Our main goal was to position Boardwalk Empire as an epic crime drama and a must-see event," said Chris Spadaccini, VP for advertising and promotions for HBO. "We worked with corporate communications to help promote the marketing campaign and build buzz."

An internal team is also overseeing social media for Boardwalk Empire, building up a community of fans on Facebook and Twitter from the ground up, as it is a new series. Spadaccini said fans go to these sites particularly on Sunday evenings, after the network debuts new trailers before episodes of True Blood.

HBO also leveraged the partnerships with a plan to "place a significant story with one high-profile national publication and then go from there," Spadaccini said. The campaign featured in The New York Times on August 15. HBO and Civic Entertainment are also looking at different verticals, reaching out to fashion, travel, and beverage industry trades, and local media in Atlantic City.

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