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HBO Makes “Fake” Brand Content Legitimate

WARNING: If you’re a fan of “Veep” and haven’t caught up with the latest episodes concerning Jonah Ryan’s latest exploits, there’s a spoiler in this post.

As part of HBO’s promotion for its hit series, “Veep,” the network has created an innovative content campaign around one of the show’s characters.
The cable network has created a realistic election campaign website, purchased a full-page political newspaper ad, and created 10 video ads for Jonah Ryan, the hapless D.C. gadfly and White House lackey in the series. In the show, Jonah is drafted to run for a House seat vacated by the death of a New Hampshire politician in a desperate political maneuver by the current administration. During the course of several weeks, the show followed Jonah’s campaign efforts, which included him literally shooting himself in the foot while attempting to boost his hunting and Second Amendment creds.
To give the series a social media boost, HBO launched, a site with Jonah’s bio, appearance schedule, photo gallery and fake “Volunteer” and “Donate” buttons. HBO went as far as purchasing a real, full-page ad in the New Hampshire Union Leader urging voters to support Ryan and his, “I’m Listening” campaign. As of June 17, 2016, one of Jonah’s ads had been viewed more than 45,000 times on YouTube.

Is More Fictional Brand Content Coming?

HBO’s content strategy to boost the show brings up the question of why other brands aren’t creating content campaigns for fictional characters. How many “Game of Thrones” fans would visit the blog of John Snow, reading his weekly musings about being the Lord Commander or his take on Wilding women vs. Westeros babes? Would women follow humorous lifestyle posts from Progressive’s Flo? How many men would have flocked to read fashion advice from The World’s Most Interesting Man before he was retired by Dos Equis?
HBO isn’t waiting for this trend – it has already created a blog with posts by “Silicon Valley” character Jared at a website for the show’s fictional company, Pied Piper. When character Erlich Bachman was hired as the company’s head of PR on a recent episode, HBO ran a notice during the credits directing viewers to read a press release about the hire at Jared’s blog (Pied Piper Taps Erlich Bachman for SVP Public Relations/Chief Evangelism Officer Position).
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Stay tuned for more corporate websites, political campaign Facebook pages and blog posts for brand mascots and TV characters.

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