ON INFLUENCING THE INFLUENCERS
With sights set on heightening awareness and cultivating meaningful buzz around the premiere of NBC’s new gripping drama, Game of Silence, Sony Pictures Television looked to us for an innovative influencer program that would foster positive pre-pilot conversation, drive tune-in and communicate the long-term promise of the series as a deeply emotional saga viewers would not be able to stop watching once they began. Drawing upon the show’s layered narrative and central themes of secrecy and loyalty, we created a high-concept, four-part “box-within-a-box” mailer that took influencers on an investigative experience much like those featured in the series.
INSIDE THIS BOX, THERE IS A KEY. FIND IT AND UNLOCK THE TRUTH.
Game of Silence deals in the human truths of friendship and loyalty through dark, even violent subject matter featuring children. With such hard-to-watch subjects and few moments of respite or comic relief, the show presented a unique viewership and marketing challenge. Additionally, Game of Silence has a complex, slow-burning narrative arc, meaning it could take viewers a few episodes to really get into it. With these challenges in mind, we developed a mailer program that emphasized how viewers—alongside the characters themselves—would be uncovering mysteries as the series progressed.
Structured much like a Russian doll, our high-concept, “box-within-a-box” mailer mirrored this journey of discovery with viewers learning more about the series as they dig deeper into the mailer components.
To overcome these challenges, we developed a show-stopping influencer mailer program that elevated the complex, subversive plot to foster community and conversation around the series, activating both high-level and lower-level influencers with content for wider distribution and reduced spend. We also collaborated with Sony Pictures Television to disseminate the first nine episodes through established influencers ahead of traditional broadcast launch in order to build awareness and prime the users for entering “The Binge Zone.”
How do you capture and retain the attention of influencers who are bombarded by tons of mailers every single day?
In order to truly capture and retain the influencers’ attention, we designed the mailers as keepsakes with a Russian doll, box-within-a-box structure. As they dig deeper and deeper into the mailer boxes, influencers uncover details about the mystery at the heart of the series.
With complex character development and multiple narrative layers revealed through flashbacks between past and present, we decided it would be beneficial to provide influencers with background information on each of the characters, essentially arming them with a basic understanding of the main players by the time they began viewing the series. Thus invested in the journey, influencers would feel that much more compelled to view the full nine episodes provided within and share the experience with their audience afterward.
THE MAILER EXPERIENCE:
We delivered 37 custom influencer mailers in a four-part investigative experience prompting users to “BREAK THE SILENCE.” Upon opening the wooden shipper, influencers encounter the first box—a sleek design with Game of Silence key art—which, when opened, plays a trailer video tailored to each individual influencer with a call to action and their own name.
This first box also contained case files for each main character, alongside both childhood and present-day photos, and a note enticing influencers to embark on a journey to uncover the hidden truth at the heart of Game of Silence. As the files are removed, the second box is revealed—a distressed wooden box with a custom Quitman logo (the juvenile detention center where the boys were detained in their youth).
This experience consists of clues and evidence pulled from the series, such as a real election bumper sticker and fake land deed, that encourages influencers to take a deeper look. Once all of the evidence is removed from the box, a ribbon and tab reveal a false bottom lid that opens up to the final box, which contains a USB key with nine of the series’ ten episodes. Also inside, a note encouraging influencers to unlock the mystery by watching the nine episodes provided before tuning into the season finale live.
Unless imaginatively conceived, carefully researched and seamlessly executed, influencer campaigns can be a gamble. Because they don’t offer a guaranteed payoff—as there is in paid media, for example—you must bring your A-game every time.
We knocked it out of the park with a mailer that not only simulated a true investigative experience in a visually appealing design, but also proved to be a valuable content opportunity in its own right. We gave the influencers something to talk about, and talk they did. At the end of the day, influencers walked away with a kick-ass experience, killer content for a blog post or tweet, AND a keepsake with multiple uses - not just another paper mailer destined to end up in a landfill.