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NBCU exec: Snapchat, VR marketing behind success of 'Mr. Robot'

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NBCU exec: Snapchat, VR marketing behind success of 'Mr. Robot'

CountAlexandra Shapiro among those who believe this is the golden age of television.But the number of quality shows available on diverse platforms has made herjob, including creating awareness and buzz for the series "Mr. Robot,"more challenging.

Shapiro,executive vice president, marketing and digital, Entertainment Networks forNBCUniversal Media LLC,Cable Entertainment, told attendees at the NewYork Media Festival on Sept. 29., how marketing to drive tune-in for newshows has changed significantly over the course of her career. She explainedthat 15 years ago launching a show largely required running a certain number ofpromo spots, a formula designed to get viewers to watch the premiere and thenkeep them watching through the third episode.

"The[key performance indicators] have changed," she said, adding that ratingsrepresent "just one small piece of the puzzle. You have to look at thingsholistically."

ForUSA (US)'s cyberthriller specifically, Shapiro listed ad sales monetization, affiliate dealswith distributors, a subscription video-on-demand with Amazon.com Inc. and an experiential store in Manhattan'sChelsea district, as other measures of success. The company now views "Mr.Robot," starring EmmyAward-winner Rami Malek, more like a brand than a show.

"It'sthe long tail, not just the frenzy before the premiere," she said, notingthe goal is to create a demand and appetite for "Mr. Robot," whileinfusing it into the culture. That requires sustained marketingefforts.

SNL Image
USA Network's 'Mr. Robot'
Source: USA

"Ifyou stop feeding the humans, they stop loving you," she joked.

USAboosted first-season awareness in 2015 through a number of tactics, kicking offthe marketing campaign by premiering the pilot at the South by Southwest event,where it wonthe audience award.

Influencersat Google Inc.,Facebook Inc. andTwitter Inc., as wellas college students, also got to see the opener beforehand to generatesocial-media awareness.

Thenin late May 2015, USA widened its marketing net by presenting the pilot acrossmultiple digital and on-demand outlets in English and Spanish. That promptedsome 3 million viewers to watch the series starter and the network to order asecond season before "Mr. Robot" made its linear premiere, accordingto Shapiro.

Withthe bar set high from the first campaign, Shapiro said USA introduced newtactics to trumpet the show's sophomore bow, highlighted by an online July 10sneak peek that was disclosed during a Facebook Live event with cast members,including Malek and Christian Slater.

Avideo, under the guise of a security breach from fsociety, the fictional hackgroup within the show's sphere, disrupted the chat. Subsequently, the official "Mr.Robot" Twitter feed announced the schedule that day for airings on thesocial network, as well as on Snapchat,YouTube and usanetwork.com.

Theploy created sampling and awareness ahead of the linear debut July 13, saidShapiro.

Thesecond season also received a boost from a 13-minute virtual-realityproduction, presenting a flashback journey from Malek's lead Elliot Andersoncharacter. Written and directed by series creator Sam Esmail, the "Mr.Robot Virtual Reality Experience" debuted at San Diego Comic-Con and is available through a number ofVR platforms.

Shapiroexpects VR to be part of the push for the show's , which will air in 2017.