The ‘Breaking Bad’ Digital Marketing Formula
Although not a devout watcher of the show, last week I found myself sat in a surreal Breaking Bad themed evening at a well-known burger joint in Manchester’s trendy Northern Quarter. I couldn’t ignore the excitement and following that AMC have built up for the ‘addictive’ (meth joke) 5th and final season of Breaking Bad.
If you haven’t heard of Breaking Bad, essentially it is a TV show created by AMC about Walt, a high school teacher who on finding out he has terminal cancer, turns to a life of drug manufacturing and dealing to supplement his low income and support his family.
AMC have tapped into the viral nature of a devoted fanbase and combined with a potent digital marketing formula to hype up frenzied fans before and during the show’s airing.
Engagement and Gamification
Whatever you do or sell it always makes sense to reach out to your advocates. AMC do this through a collection of content and a clever app which encourages self confessed BB addicts to answer questions and share pictures and quotes from the show through the #bbaddict hashtag.
There is an endless stream of user generated content in a wide variety of formats constantly marketing the Breaking Bad series across multiple sites. These include:
I was astonished to find out how much quality graphic design and fan art is floating about out there. AMC have truly embraced this as part of their marketing by setting up a Tumblr to promote and show it: http://breakingbadamc.tumblr.com/
The Breaking Bad fans dont stop at static images. They have gone out in their droves to produce parody videos devoted to their favourite show. This is probably the impressive and time consuming example I could find:
Gifs and Memes
The true sign of something going viral are the number meme’s and gifs circulating the web. Breaking bad has an mind boggling 26 million Gifs and 13 million meme search results. There is even a whole site dedicated to Breaking Bad gifs: http://breakinggifs.com/bg/
Others have been making the most of the shows popularity by creating Breaking Bad themed infographics or visuals. These folks then indirectly promote the series for AMC. For example RehabInfo.net, a comprehensive guide for the entire rehab treatment process, created this infographic:
When you combine loved characters with a good script, fans will create their own very popular persona accounts which gather there very own followings. For example:
AMC created the www.bettercallsaul.com microsite for the shows sleaze bag lawyer Saul Goodman. The site features everything a real lawyers website would have, from testimonials to a cheesy intro performed by the lawyer himself.
Save Walter White
To raise awareness of the plight cancer suffers go through and donations for the cause, the gang at AMC created http://www.savewalterwhite.com, a site dedicated to saving Walt made by his son Walt Jnr. The site directed donations through to their own page on the National Cancer Coalition site.
Alright, so its not a real blog but AMC did create Walt’s very own blog for Season 1 of the show. Here users could generate a personalised video message from the man himself: www.waltswisdom.com
None of today’s films or tv shows would be a success without the use of a hardened social media marketing. Breaking Bad is no exception with a thorough mix of social media marketing techniques being used.
Twitter has played a massive part in the promotion of the new season. The media partnership with Netflix and use of #breakingbad hashtag create a community for the fans to share quotes, plot lines and favourite episodes.
It’s also great to see key cast members actively counting down to the airing:
It’s so close I can almost taste the meth #BreakingBad
— Aaron Paul (@aaronpaul_8) August 11, 2013
It’s interesting to see the aggressive nature of those fans worried about other viewers tweeting spoilers:
If anyone spoils Breaking Bad for me, I’ll spoil their house with fire.
— Ceridwen (@CezRobot) August 12, 2013
if you spoil breaking bad for me you get unfollowed, blocked and an envelope with a fart in it sent to your house
— Lewis Norris (@DROP_BALL) August 12, 2013
There are 2 types of people in this world.. Those who deserve to live..and those who spoil Breaking Bad on twitter.
— Lindsay Pangborn (@lindsaypangborn) August 12, 2013
With a range of games and activities for fans 5,039,123 to choose from, the Facebook page is a truly interactive area and a great example of social media marketing.
Not everything AMC have created for the show has gone down a storm. They started an Instagram page to engage those who perhaps don’t reside on the other social platforms. Rather than sharing incredible artwork and behind the scenes stills, the account has a number of random periodic table images and fairly boring stills from the show. Because of this the account picked up a relatively measly 4,110 followers for its 39 posts.
Now Im no Einstein but I believe the Breaking Bad formula for digital marketing goes something like:
Storyline (Meth x Mayhem) + Online Marketing = X million addicted viewers + X awards