When I say we in the Roberts Communications Interactive team love the show Mr. Robot, I might be understating it. We’ve watched the first season probably four times now; likely 10 times for the first episode. It’s one of those TV shows that hooks people immediately and has you wanting to know more by the end of the episode.
Now I won’t get into how good I believe this show is (seriously, it’s the best) since I’d never consider myself a film critic. However, there are a few marketing techniques that have been used with the show that truly engage their audience.
When Mr. Robot first launched, they did something different than most other new TV shows—they uploaded it to YouTube. It’s not very common for a new TV show on a major television network to reveal its premiere episode on an internet-based video-sharing website. Getting this in the eyes of a widespread audience where everyone wants things on-demand, gained a quick amount of traction. Although in theory, it could have resulted in lower viewership for the broadcast debut, the initial view count prior to its network broadcast enticed USA Network to sign the show on for a second season before even being released. Everyone was talking about it because it hadn’t even gone on air.
Cater to and Engage Your Audience
After the first season aired, we couldn’t wait for the second season to start. Most shows go through downtime between seasons where they try to keep watchers engaged by using social media for throwback material to get them thinking about the show, or release a teaser for the upcoming season. Mr. Robot has taken it in a more evolved direction.
A few months before the airing of the second season, a new website popped up: Who Is Mr. Robot? This is where the fun starts.
Who Is Mr. Robot? has a twist that’s geared more towards the geeky audience. The first screen resembles a terminal window of a Linux environment. For developers like myself, this is an all too familiar screen. For others visiting, it looks like a bunch of code, which could be intimidating at first. They lay it out with a hint of what commands to use. All of these require typing the command into the prompt and hitting enter to view additional content. Some of the videos that can be seen in “fivenine” are quick sample commercials of what would be on after what happened in the first season (no spoilers!). One is a very convincing video of President Barack Obama giving a speech about what happened.
What’s particularly fun for these kinds of sites are some of the little easter eggs placed in the site. For example, a message hidden in the source code of the site displays:
This could also be a play on words, very similar to “You are not a loan” which fits the theme.
Mr. Robot has kept focus on giving an accurate insight into the life of a hacker/security analyst, so the nature of this marketing is right in line with their vision. It gives you an idea of what type of show it is, without even seeing any scenes with the characters. Maybe it’s the field I’m in and the people I associate with, but I can’t stop running into people sharing this site and talking about it with others. At the end of the day, this is exactly what you want. Something new, something different, something engaging. They’ve hit the nail on the head, and it’s paying off.