Courteney Monroe has fine-tuned the tricky art of using social media and viral marketing to promote HBO’s slate of series online, on the network’s various channels and in traditional media. Monroe and her team’s campaign to support HBO’s latest hit, True Blood, has pushed the boundaries of these new marketing concepts.
“As a piece of programming, True Blood is one of the best marketing canvases we could be given,” Monroe says. “It’s such a fun show and it’s so full of such rich characters and story lines that it lends itself to really fun marketing.”
Monroe has found many original ways to capture audiences’ attention when it comes to True Blood, a campy vampire drama based on Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse novels. Last summer, HBO and its hired PR firm, Campfire NYC, launched a sponsored blog, called Bloodcopy, allegedly written by a vampire from Bon Temps, Louisiana. Since both vampires and Bon Temps are fictional, it seemed obvious that the blog was as well.
To promote the blog, HBO did a promotional deal with Gawker and announced that Bloodcopy was the latest addition to Gawker’s family of blogs. A few reporters picked up the story as if Gawker really did acquire a new blog, so when they found out it was all just a marketing ploy, it stirred up quite the flap.
“Gawker took a lot of flak for it and it created all this controversy, but in the end it really amplified the noise around the season-two premiere,” Monroe says.
Monroe and her team have done other out-of-the-box work around True Blood, creating advertisements set in the show’s universe and targeting vampires, but featuring real products. Brands such as Monster.com, Harley-Davidson, Mini Cooper and Gillette allowed HBO’s marketing team to create advertisements for them.
“There’s no real way for advertisers to associate themselves with HBO or its programs, but we found a tongue-in-cheek way for these brands to associate themselves with True Blood,” Monroe explains. “Surprisingly, we didn’t have any trouble finding advertisers who wanted to do this.”
Beyond True Blood, Monroe’s marketing staff also created two online campaigns, The HBO Voyeur Project and HBO Imagine, that were “experimental campaigns we did on behalf of the brand at large,” she says. Both marketing campaigns can be found online at HBOVoyeur.com and HBOImagine.com.
Monroe began her career at HBO in 1998 as a manager of advertising; she’s been in her current position since March 2008. Prior to joining HBO, she was manager of customer retention and loyalty marketing for American Express, an associate of corporate communications at Salomon Brothers and an account executive at BBDO.
Promax/BDA Conference Highlights
2010 Brand Builder Courteney Monroe is scheduled to appear on the first day of Promax/BDA in the CMO Summit. The conference program also includes an interview with boxing champ Sugar Ray Leonard by Monroe’s colleague, HBO Sports President Ross Greenburg.
What: In Conversation With Sugar Ray Leonard: Insights of a Champion
When: Wednesday, June 15, 2 p.m.
Where: Diamond Ballroom, JW Marriott, LA Live