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How to Promote a TV Show the Right Way, From Online Treasure Hunts to Melting Blocks of Ice

Very Good TV Podcast: HBO's recent promotions for "The Leftovers" Season 3 and "Game of Thrones" Season 7 got people talking, but is that all that matters?

Game of Thrones Season 7 Poster - Cropped


Over the past few weeks, HBO’s marketing department has been exploring new techniques to build anticipation for a few of the premium cable network’s hit shows. Instead of simply dropping trailers for fans to go crazy over, HBO has been doing something a little different while promoting the third season of “The Leftovers” and the much-anticipated (and delayed) seventh season of “Game of Thrones.”

The best of HBO’s innovative marketing plan can be seen through how they went about releasing the newest trailer for “The Leftovers,” which came in the form of a scavenger hunt that sent fans searching the web for seven different portions of the trailer. From Damon Lindelof’s Instagram, to HBO’s official Facebook page, the network challenged fans’ knowledge of the show, while creating a fun way for viewers to actively engage with the show’s marketing. While some may have found this method inconvenient and time-consuming, many found it to be loads of fun, and the treasure hunt only raised their excitement for the show’s season premiere.

READ MORE: ‘The Leftovers’ Season 3: New Trailer and Poster Ask if Kevin is An Angel, Our Savior, or…Jesus?

Speaking of inconvenient and time consuming, another recent promotion that received an abundance of attention was the Season 7 premiere date announcement for “Game of Thrones.” The date was revealed through a melting block of ice, which was streamed on the show’s Facebook page for more than an hour. The strategy was met with mixed reaction: Fans tuned in by the thousands, but some voiced annoyance at the simplicity of the stunt: All they could do to speed up the process was type keywords into the comments section, making the interactively of the unveiling very limited. It also may not have helped that the season has been delayed three months, so asking fans to wait for over an hour for the premiere date might have been a bit much. In this instance, perhaps less was more, as a simple announcement would’ve gotten fans plenty excited.

HBO’s recent strategies are certainly getting plenty of attention, which is the sign of any successful marketing scheme. Though hopefully in the future, their techniques fall more in line with “The Leftovers” scavenger hunt, as opposed to winter’s equivalent of watching grass grow.

Listen to IndieWire TV Editor Liz Shannon Miller and TV Critic Ben Travers debate the issue in this week’s Very Good TV Podcast (above). Don’t forget to subscribe via Soundcloud or iTunes, and follow IndieWire on Twitter and Facebook for all your pertinent TV news. Check out Liz and Ben’s Twitter feeds for more, more, more. Plus, don’t forget to listen to IndieWire’s other podcastsScreen Talk with Eric Kohn and Anne Thompson, as well as Michael Schneider’s new podcast, Turn It On, which spotlights the most important TV of each week.

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