Freeform’s “Cruel Summer” is a teen mystery thriller TV series with an innovative nonlinear storytelling format.
When it premiered in April of 2021, “Cruel Summer” was an immediate fan favorite and set the record for being the most-watched overall series debut ever for the network, averaging 3.81 million multi-platform viewers in its first week. It was quickly renewed for a second season.
Although several original cast members teased their hopes for appearing in the upcoming season, it was later announced that the show would become an anthology series. Season 2 would introduce a new story featuring fresh characters, and a different location and time period.
After a 2-year pause following the end of Season 1, Freeform’s challenge was to re-engage fans and attract new viewers by re-framing “Cruel Summer” to create a rich storytelling world, from which new narratives can occur.
The ultimate objective was for Season 2 of “Cruel Summer” to surpass the success of Season 1.
In partnership with key meme accounts, Freeform used the late 90s/early 2000s era of Cruel Summer’s new season throughout our campaign in order to tap into the time period. The robust nostalgia-driven community on Instagram was a very engaged audience, utilizing (6) accounts; @todayyearsold, @mybestiesays, @kalesalad, @imthiftyaf, @beigecardigan and @90sanxiety.
Throwback influencers such as Lance Bass, Mario Lopez, and Matthew Lawrence also extended to IRL activations, themed mailers, and giveaways to round out the 360 experience.
Unanimously positive sentiment with fans enjoying the throwback theme, all while noting their excitement for the upcoming season.