We needed to create significant anticipation and excitement for the premiere for Season 8 of AMC's The Walking Dead, and the franchise's 100th episode.
The Walking Dead has one of the largest social media communities in the entertainment space, which provides fertile ground to energize fans and create momentum for the premiere. In social, we wanted to drive engagements across Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, as well as boost conversation volume to increase tune in for the premiere moment on 10/22.
During the pre-premiere, we needed to engage both avid and lapsed fans around the show's storyline, and create anticipation for what was to come.
For the premiere moment, we needed a big splash that could extend beyond our social channels into the real world, to drive optimal buzz and conversation. Our social channels would give our fans an intimate connection to the premiere event.
To bring the pre-premiere moment to life in a huge way and celebrate The Walking Dead's 100th episode at the same time, we created a program called "The TWD 100". Each week, starting 100 days out from the Season 8 premiere, we posted content in our social channels that would recap the 100 episodes, through quote cards, "Throwback Thursdays", and recap video content. Through this program, we were able to use our social channels in a unique way to catch fans up, and create excitement for the new season.
For the premiere moment, we had to go big. To do so, AMC threw a huge party for the premiere at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles, involving cast members and lucky fans in attendance, to celebrate their fandom and watch episode 100 together. The event included a red carpet with our cast and influencers. We live streamed the event through our social channels, enabling our core fans to participate from anywhere.
Beyond the live streaming, we needed something extra for fans in the rest of the country that couldn't attend the live premiere event – fans that made up the most active social following of any TV show. Staying true to The Walking Dead world and story, we wanted to turn loose some post-apocalyptic mayhem. On the day of the premiere, fans of The Walking Dead woke up to big news: two walkers had been spotted on the beaches of Malibu. Then throughout the day, the walkers popped up in different locations around Los Angeles, like Venice Beach, Hollywood, and Griffith Park. Fans could not only follow their progress across the city, but also interact with them through Instagram Live Stories. The platform let fans engage in real time with IP they love — right up to the moment when the walkers busted in on the red carpet event at The Greek.
The walker stunt went from concept to execution in just one week – but that doesn't mean the little details were sacrificed (because after all, it's The Walking Dead). We partnered with Greg Nicotero (head of makeup for The Walking Dead) and his special effects company to create the exact same walkers used in the series.
All in, fans were taken on a journey leading up to the 100th episode of The Walking Dead. They were able to celebrate their favorite moments from previous seasons, and take part in a major celebration for the 100th episode, whether live in person, or live throughout our social channels.
The strategy and approach paid off. With a premiere night usually dominated by NFL Football, The Walking Dead was two of the top three trending topics – in the whole world. The Walking Dead's Season 8 premiered to rave reviews and audiences and critics.
And best of all, hundreds and thousands of fans across the country got to be part of one of the biggest nights in television – proving that the best way to catch the dead…is to watch them live.
For the TWD 100 program throughout the pre-premiere period, we saw 274,332,311 impressions, including 179,691,569 in total reach, and 6,647,910 in total engagements (likes, comments, shares). This included a 3.7% engagement rate.
For the premiere moment and live-streaming event on 10/22, we saw 35,003,258 impressions and a total reach of 19,345,974, as well as 909,175 total engagements at a 4.7% engagement rate.
The Walkers in LA Instagram Story video, which brought fans on social closer to the event, was The Walking Dead's most engaging content on Instagram – ever. We created an Instagram Story with 25 different components, featuring 5 different locations through Los Angeles, garnering just under 2.5 million impressions, 8.9 million taps forward, and an average completion rate of 82%, exceeding industry benchmarks.
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