Susie Myerson isn’t real, but her billboards are. Ads touting the fictional talent manager are set to pop up this month around Los Angeles, complete with a working phone number. Myerson, of course, is the character played by Alex Borstein in Amazon’s “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” And the billboards are a guerilla way to kick of the show’s Emmy campaign — while perhaps drawing in a few new viewers.
“Any time we’ve got a program where we can do something allows us to create a marketing effort thats really organic to the show, thats what were looking to do,” said Mike Benson, who oversees marketing at Amazon Studios. “We’re trying to separate ourselves with other ‘For Your Consideration’ campaigns that are out there. There’s a lot of momentum for this show right now.”
The first billboard is set to be erected on Monday, March 19, on a wallscape at the intersection of Hollywood Blvd. and Argyle, adjacent to the Pantages Theatre and a block away from Hollywood and Vine. The ad doesn’t mention “Mrs. Maisel” at all, but appears to be a note from “Susie Myerson, Personal Management” — Miriam “Midge” Maisel’s manager on the show:
“Dear Sir or Madam: I have a new client you need to meet. She is so funny she makes Lenny Bruce blush. For booking, call her manager. That’s me. Susie (212) 796-5636”
Here’s the unique part: A team of comedians have been hired to actually populate a call center to answer the phone and riff with whomever is calling in. Elizabeth Banks’ WhoHaHa company is coordinating the stunt with Amazon, and staffing its offices “with their most hilarious female content creators to answer the phone lines.”
“We felt like in a town filled with agents and managers trying to place their talent into shows, especially during pilot season, why not have Susie put up her own campaign for her talent that she’s managing,” Benson said. “We talked a lot about, OK, if Susie set up an agency, how would it work? Go back to the year when the show is set, 1958, and she might have someone picking up the phone and answering it. I don’t think people are accustomed to that anymore. We wanted to create something that was a little bit more 1958, but still be relevant for today.”
“Mrs. Maisel” creator Amy Sherman-Palladino worked with Amazon and WhoHaHa to help capture the voice of the show for the Emmy stunt. WhoHaHa has trained its comedians to answer the phone in the voice of the time, and have some fun with people as they call in. Benson hinted that Borstein might even get into the action and answer a few calls.
“[Sherman-Palladino] has been super involved to make sure that the voice and the tone was accurate,” Benson said. “It’s been a total collaboration with her.”
After riffing with callers, the characters will then forward them to a clip of one of Midge’s standup routines from the show. Also, the first 150 callers to get a live person will be sent a limited edition 7″ 45 RPM record of music from the show.
The campaign will last for four weeks; a second billboard will be located starting March 26 on the Sunset Strip at Sunset and Crescent Heights, near the Chateau Marmont:
Here is a sample of the cards that “Susie” is sending out:
When the call center is not staffed, callers will hear a pre-recorded voicemail that will give the impression Susie is there but doesn’t have time to talk, and then they’ll hear the standup clip. If someone texts the 212 number, they will get an automated return text from Susie letting them know they really need to know Midge, and a link to the series’ Prime Video page.
Benson said he knew most people calling in will likely be fans, and not Emmy voters, and that’s OK. “By design, we want this to be as much a consumer campaign as it is a trade campaign,” he said. “If someone who is not a member of the Academy voting body stumbles across it, we want them to come in and experience ‘Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’ in a different way. The whole idea was if we’ve got consumers who enjoy it, that’s great for us.”
The call-in stunt is just the beginning of Amazon’s Emmy campaign for “Mrs. Maisel,” fresh off the show’s Golden Globe wins for best comedy and best comedy actress (Rachel Brosnahan). “You’re going to start to see some interesting advertising plays that really start to put the character that Rachel is playing [front and center], in ways that represents the Midge character in 1958 but also makes her relevant for today,” Benson said.