We needed to launch HBO Max’s new show Peacemaker, an unknown superhero IP in an already oversaturated entertainment space, with a bang, and turn it into the most watched HBO Max Original DC Series to date.
The eponymous Peacemaker, a jingoistic killer who is played by action star John Cena, was introduced to audiences in the movie ‘The Suicide Squad’. In January 2022 HBO Max launched its first IP in the DC Extended Universe (DCEU). But we couldn’t assume that our audiences had seen the film, especially as we were targeting a broad, mainstream audience. So, we had to make sure that our idea gave audiences a proper introduction to the character, regardless of whether or not they’d seen Suicide Squad.
The biggest challenge? Superheroes are highly popular thanks to the likes of Marvel and other DCEU IP. And the show was slated to come out in the second week of January, one of the busiest times of the year for marketing campaigns. We had to cut through the noise in order to get Peacemaker noticed. And we had to do it in a way that authentically reflected the unique tone of the film – high-octane action with laugh-out-loud mature humor, quirky, flawed characters, and grisly violence.
Already competing with major superhero franchises and IP, Peacemaker’s TV debut also coincided with major holidays, meaning there was even more noise to cut through. We needed to generate major hype for a show during one of the busiest and most attention-cluttered time of year in advance of a January 13 premiere.
So, we decided to showcase the things that make this particular superhero unconventional. Leaning on Peacemaker’s introduction in The Suicide Squad, our marketing campaign would showcase his unique positioning as “not the hero we want, but the one we got.”
That hero? The guy who wants peace, no matter how many “men, women, and children [he] has to kill to get it”.
And where better to bring peace than to the world’s least peaceful social media platform?
Ranking first in the Average Toxicity Rating and with 38.1% of Americans thinking that it has the most trolls, bringing peace to Twitter would be the perfect first mission for Peacemaker.
Our online strategy weaved in and around Twitter, with John Cena as our star, and building off James Gunn’s pedigree and tone, and the show’s MA-TV rating. While John Cena and James Gunn have built-in followings and Peacemaker is our hero, we’d also play up the humor and dynamics that make the wild, ragtag team around him equally as fun, irreverent.
From trailers, to custom emojis, videos and even teaming up with the Twitter Safety team to establish Peacemaker as the official Arbitrator of Peace of the platform, we made sure Americans on Twitter knew about Peacemaker.
Then, we utilized Peacemaker Day – also known as New Year’s Day – to make the biggest impact possible. That meant a takeover of the world’s most famous New Year’s event, the Times Square ball drop. As the clock struck midnight, we turned New Year’s Day into Peacemaker Day with an all-out Times Square Billboard Peacemaker takeover.
We dropped the official Peacemaker Red Band trailer on Twitter, complete with custom pre-hype videos featuring Cena, and partnered with Twitter’s Dive team to tap into the Times Square inventory that put Peacemaker assets on every billboard in Times Square. We made our audiences billboard famous and drove fan engagement by posting fans’ live tweet reactions to the Peacemaker trailer in the heart of New York City.
In the leadup to premiere day, we again tapped Twitter with unique activations. #ArbitratorOf Peace asked users to submit their petty arguments for Peacemaker himself to “rain down his adjudication” and bring peace to Twitter timelines. We dropped three spotlight trend videos to get attention. In-season, Peacemaker joined Twitter’s Safety team to help highlight safety features across Twitter's platform via humorous instructional videos (#AllInForPeace) featuring Peacemaker and a Twitter representative. Throughout the Season we had 11 custom emojis built that aligned with the cast and other elements within the show, took over the Twitter TV handle and had watch parties on Twitter for each episode. We also sent reminder tweets to anyone who opted in, so they’d never miss a moment.
Peacemaker not only hijacked Twitter, he also hijacked one of the world’s biggest events, using Twitter as a key mechanism. Then, we kept Twitter talking about Peacemaker as we approached premiere, and throughout the season.
Our Times Square billboard takeover made fans billboard famous and generated far more buzz than we ever could have hoped for at a cost that came in at a fraction of what was expected.
Peacemaker premiered on HBO Max on January 13 and by 1/22 it wasn’t just the most popular HBO Max DC Originals show...it was the #1 most in-demand streaming series on the planet.
Americans were finally ready to ‘give peace a f***ing chance’.