USA Network is embarking on one of its most ambitious marketing efforts in support of its upcoming new series, “Mr. Robot.”
The cable network has partnered with social video and popular gamer community, Twitch, and the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) for a campaign that will erase $US100,00o in consumer debt over 72 hours.
“Come Thursday through Saturday we are messaging, fulfilling, engaging, all of it in real time, and so I would say to that end, we’ve never done anything of this magnitude,” USA’s marketing and digital executive vice president, Alexandra Shapiro, told Business Insider. “There’s so many moving parts that are going to be key to the success of this promotion.”
The “hacktivation,” as USA refers to it, was inspired by Christian Slater’s mysterious hacker character on “Mr. Robot,” who hopes to free Americans from the oppression of debt.
USA identified gamers aka people obsessed with video games as a natural fit for the series. It screened the “Mr. Robot” pilot over Twitch in late-May with nearly 250,000 people who started watching the episode. It then decided to follow up on those gamer relationships at E3 with Twitch, the conference’s official live stream partner. At any point in time, there could be 400,000 people concurrently watching the stream.
“There’s probably no other promotion where you can get that many people at the same time looking at the same thing,” Shapiro explained. “And so when they, both E3 and Twitch, were open to the idea of custom creating a Mr. Robot promotion, it was just as though the stars were aligned.”
After several teases, see above, over the past two days from the show’s fictional hacker group fsociety, the campaign starts in earnest Thursday at 7:30 p.m. ET when Twitch users can visit twitch.tv/whoismrrobot to watch a three hour livestream. Every 30 minutes, a code will be given out that can be used to win a chance at the monetary prizes. Up to 50 winners will be selected every half hour for the opportunity of an instant payout between $US10 to $US5,000.
But, non-Twitch members will also get their chance to win a debt payout on June 19 and 20 when two 6-hour live streams will be available from 6 p.m. to 12 a.m. ET on whoismrrobot.com.
“So I think our first line of engagement will be these Twitch users,” Shapiro said. “We’re going to use all the social engagement we’ve created to date, the database, the users that have registered on whoismrrobot.com, and then other social media in order to cast an even a wider net, and I think that’s what’s going to be really interesting is to see how the engagement changes over the days, the profile of the people who are participating. I think that will be as empowering and interesting a story as maybe the event itself.”
The network’s hope is that the people who participated in the early screening and the debt hacktivation will show up for the show’s actual TV run beginning June 24 on Fox, which will also be accompanied by another round of payouts surrounding the premiere.
In the end, the campaign hopes to reach millennials, which has become the largest group of the network’s target audience of Adults 18-49 years old.
“They’re the largest generation in history, and they demand storytelling to be done in a really different way,” the Shapiro said. “And I think the reason people responded so positively to ‘Mr. Robot’ is that not only is it timely themes, but the unique creative execution and showrunner Sam Esmail’s sort of vision.”
See another hacktivation teaser below:
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