The launch of HBO NOW was a disruptive change to the traditional pay TV landscape and meant that HBO can now reach younger, internet-only audience ala the cord-cutters. To many people, a standalone way to watch Game of Thrones was the answer to their Internet prayers.
To create awareness and a positive consumer and press halo around the long-awaited, much-anticipated HBO NOW launch (the new standalone streaming service from HBO), HBO reached out to their most vocal fans from years ago.
In 2012, HBO superfan Jake Caputo created the website and social campaign, "Take My Money, HBO," challenging HBO to take his hard-earned cash in return for an over-the-top subscription. The campaign quickly turned into a social media phenomenon, with hundreds of thousands of HBO fans joining in, and tweeting at @HBO from the site with the hashtag #TakeMyMoneyHBO, telling HBO how much they'd pay for a standalone, monthly subscription.
With the launch of HBO NOW making standalone HBO a reality, HBO wanted to very publicly respond to Jake and to the thousands of HBO fans that had been waiting for this day to come—while also sending the message that it is time to pay up.
When the launch of HBO NOW was imminent, it was time to take Jake up on his offer and literally take his money. Reaching out under somewhat false pretences, HBO brought Jake to New York for what he thought would be a casual interview. What he didn't know was that HBO planned to ambush him with Paulie Walnuts and Big Pussy of The Sopranos (2 famous henchmen from 1 of his favorite shows), who came specifically to "collect" on Jake's promise of his money.
Using our iconic characters to improve with Jake, we were able to resurface the brilliant comedy chemistry of the actors and bring it into today, creating the perfect celebration of the timelessness of the HBO brand (all while reinforcing product launch and offering awareness).
The video documenting "the shake-down" was blasted immediately following the announcement of HBO NOW's App Store availability, and HBO's time in the cultural spotlight highlighted our self-awarness and commitment to listening to our fans.
At launch, we worked with Jake to update the 3-year-old website, TakeMyMoneyHBO.com, to share the video and an entry detailing his personal experience being surprised by HBO. Jake's account of the experience stated it perfectly: "As soon as Paulie and Big Pussy flung open the interview room door, I knew I'd been duped. They lied to me. They tricked me. And I loved every minute of it."
An immediate viral success, the video drew over 200k views organically in mere days. Praised by Fast Company, AdWeek, ReCode, Engadget, and labelled an Editor's Pick by Adweek's Creativity blog, Take My money HBO was also featured in Lee Hunt's Best Practices keynote at the 2015 PromaxBDA conference.
Using the video's interactive end-card to successfully drive thousands of subscription sign-ups to HBO NOW, we were able to introduce The Sopranos and the new produce to a new generation of HBO fans.