USA Network built buzz for the TV film “The Fall of Sam Axe" (a prequel to the hit show “Burn Notice") by inviting fans to take part in a live Q&A with the film’s star Bruce Campbell via Reddit. Through Reddit’s “Ask Me Anything" feature, fans were able to ask Campbell questions for an entire day. The thread quickly became one of the most popular Q&A threads on Reddit to date, sparked conversations across the social landscape and drove 50K hits to the “Fall of Sam Axe" website.OBJECTIVE -- In April 2011, USA Network partnered with 360i to launch a promotion for “The Fall of Sam Axe," a television film prequel to the current hit series “Burn Notice." The core objectives were to increase buzz, fuel engagement and, ultimately, drive tune-in for the premiere on April 17. AUDIENCE -- The target audience for this special TV film prequel aligned with that of the popular series “Burn Notice," which attracts a heavily male audience (ages 18-34). We also wanted to tap into the cult following of “Burn Notice" star, Bruce Campbell, who is well-known for his role in “The Evil Dead" (1981) among sci-fi & horror film aficionados. Armed with knowledge into USA Network’s target audience, and more specifically, the core demographic of “Burn Notice" viewers, 360i researched potential channels and communities that would align with the show’s unique audience. We identified Reddit, a rapidly growing niche social network with nearly 2 billion pageviews a month (source: Reddit), as the perfect platform on which to execute this special promotion. STRATEGY & EXECUTION -- Given Campbell’s cult hero status, we wanted to reach his fans in a way that played into their online habits AND allowed them to engage with his new film, “The Fall of Sam Axe," ahead of its premiere. Our strategy was to leverage Reddit, an established niche and rapidly growing social platform to empower fans to engage in direct dialogue with Campbell. We selected Reddit due to the close alignment of the social network’s audience base and that of “Burn Notice" and Bruce Campbell (18-34 males who are tech early adopters). We used the Reddit platform to host a semi-real-time Q&A (called an AMA, or Ask Me Anything) and allow Campbell’s fans to ask him whatever questions they wanted -- for an entire day. The beauty of this was of course that the conversation took place within a hyper-social platform — so as more and more people asked questions, the buzz intensified. People began citing the AMA on Twitter, across other platforms and on various blogs and websites. The effect was a social echo chamber with unprecedented fan enthusiasm that provided real value to Campbell fans and raised awareness for “The Fall of Sam Axe," not only with this audience, but with a larger group of people in the Reddit/social community as well. RESULTS -- Within 17 minutes of submitting the AMA, the Q&A thread had reached the front page on Reddit and within the hour it became the #1 article on Reddit homepage. In just 24 hours, more than 4,500 people had commented on the post, earning a Reddit submission score of 2,835. Bruce Campbell’s AMA is now the #3 all-time highest-scoring AMA on Reddit. The promotional links in the post that drove to the “Fall of Sam Axe" site on usanetwork.com generated nearly 50K hits to the site directly from Reddit. Subsequently, discussions about Bruce’s AMA exploded on Twitter earning 600 tweets and over 522K secondary impressions on Twitter alone. As for ratings, “The Fall of Sam Axe" averaged 3.6 million viewers — a solid showing during a competitive time slot.
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