Premiering Nov 2021, Yellowjackets is part survival epic, psychological horror story, and coming-of-age drama. Set in mid-90s and its present day aftermaths, Yellowjackets features dual ensembles of relatable Gen Z and Gen X Women. The challenge: break through peak TV clutter from hundreds of competing titles and recruit cross-generational audiences to Yellowjackets. Tying together the original premise, 90s nostalgia, multigenerational cast and unique voices, week-to-week social listening, original content, and community strategies targeted Gen Z, Millennial and Gen Y women. Social engagement grew each week, as mentions exploded 27x and reach doubled eight consecutive times over ten weeks.
In late 2021, when everyone was still stuck at home, overwhelmed with the slew of new shows popping up every day to fill their days, the core challenge was clear: How do you break through the noise from hundreds of competing choices and convince these audiences that this new show is in fact a must-watch? Going further, how do you create an army of hardcore fans who can’t get enough of Yellowjackets? In order to build a hit, we needed to recruit a cross-generational audience of Gen Z women who relate to the teen ensemble, and their Gen X Moms, leverage their shared mid-90s nostalgia, and build strong word of mouth.
The show’s cross-generational appeal was emphasized with bespoke content tailored to the specific interests of target Gen X / Gen Z target audiences, bringing forward the 90s themes, and visually juxtaposing the dual story timelines.
The campaign turned the weekly wait for what happens next in Yellowjackets into an evolving conversation with a social-first, fan focused strategic campaign anchored around the release schedule. The campaign set out to stoke anticipation, reaction and engagement by highlighting all the things that made Yellowjackets compelling -- the twists, mid 90s nostalgia, the OMG moments and dynamic female-led cast.
We took some cues from our future clanswomen and introduced our voice with the dark humor and grit of complicated women. Similar to lead characters Shauna and Misty, the social content of the Yellowjackets campaign embodied dark humor, grit and mystery. These became the focal point of character intro videos, original tweets, and captions. This ongoing conversation will build buzz by creating content based on this highly original premise, the cross-generational cast, and these complex, complicated female leads.
In the era of peak TV (559 drama series aired in 2021), social media is critical to drive awareness, buzz & word of mouth. For Yellowjackets to succeed on SHOWTIME, it deserved a social media campaign as delicious as the cross-generational survivalist story itself.
Three thematic pillars of original content created intrigue with unique teasers to get the audience to ponder the central question at heart of Yellowjackets – what really happened out there? A dedicated show Instagram launched with a cryptic date teaser on a crashed wing. Original black box recordings teased the mystery to come. And exclusive footage leaked with a wink toward team tryouts.
Every week a content cadence teased upcoming episode with clips, stills, and show tweets. Conversation surrounding each premiere was amplified with impactful clips, stills and gifs. New content talked about all the WTF moments by posting fan-reactive content, relevant gifs, and active community management. Social listening monitored conversations, identified emergent trends, then created new reactive content to capitalize on hot topics.
Social listening and adaptation were vital to building organic and growing conversations with fans. Week by week, the plan was to unearth fans’ most talked about characters and the conversation trends bubbling up around the show. Listening created fresh insights that were quickly turned into new content that accelerated all of these trending conversations.
As the hive gained power, fan art emerged as part of community. Influencers spread the word and grew the hive. Celebs joined in the growing conversations. By week seven, original merch was quickly produced and repped with pride.
Yellowjackets is SHOWTIME’s biggest first year series in the past 6 years. Buzz and engagement grew week over week all season as google searches climbed weekly through the finale.
Yellowjackets is the second most streamed series in SHOWTIME History. Cumulative mentions doubled over the first four episodes, and then exploded - doubling again in two weeks. Over the final three weeks, fan conversation continued to double week over week. By the finale, this campaign was generating 27x as much buzz as it was during premiere week, a record of unprecedented growth.
Yellowjackets became a 2021 cultural phenomenon. Eventually, Yellowjackets was recognized as not only the buzziest new drama series, but made many Best of 2021 critics and pop culture round up lists.
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