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Cruel Summer Season 2 Social Campaign

Entered in Entertainment


Set in an idyllic waterfront town in the Pacific Northwest, the next chapter of Cruel Summer follows the rise and fall of an intense teenage friendship. Approaching the story from three different timelines surrounding Y2K, the season twists and turns as it tracks the early friendship between Megan, Isabella and Megan’s best friend Luke, the love triangle that blossomed, and the mystery that would impact all of their lives going forward. The main objective of Freeform’s Cruel Summer Season 2 Social Campaign was to create a unique digital experience, expanding the world of Cruel Summer beyond our main marketing channels, and onto a nostalgic digital space.



To promote Season 2, Freeform launched a social campaign that leaned into the mysterious, time-shifting aspect of the series. The nostalgic campaign leveraged the pop culture of the late ’90s and early 2000s throughout its creative; from throwback music to fashion and technology-inspired trends. The campaign seeded storylines, easter eggs, and clues across social media to build upon the mystery and fuel fan engagement. 

The Y2K “glitch” of 1999/200 was central to the campaign, with creative embracing the idea of “fatal errors” across digital screens and the series storylines alike. 

To kick off the campaign, the social presence for the show leaned on mysterious “hacker” inspired content as well as strategic collaborations with Executive Producer Jessica Biel to establish the new time period and setting for the series. The show’s premiere date announcement went viral with an Instagram post by Jessica Biel featuring actual throwback images of her with 90’s appropriate attire, inclusive of an easter egg reflecting the show’s premiere date. To tease and unlock show footage for fans early on, a 90s-style PC was taken over by a computer bug with cryptic clues.

This theme continued with the trailer launch, teasing audiences 24 hours in advance with the first few seconds that ended in a y2K-style glitch that ultimately led to the full trailer.

The campaign throughline continued with “found footage” style camcorder videos, serving as first-person character intros, shot in an organic “confessional” style for each storyline.

Extending well into the season, fans were able to play along through a “hack” of the Cruel Summer social accounts. The anonymous hacker “wiped” all existing posts and content, and took over with unhinged memes, polls, and conspiracies about what happened to Luke Chambers and the small town of Chatham. The “Cruelly Hacked” execution yielded a 624% increase in reach vs the previous week’s time period, heading into the finale.




Video for Cruel Summer Season 2 Social Campaign

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