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From the 8th Annual Shorty Awards

WGN America: Salem WitchcraftCut

Entered in Video, Television


The objective was to find ways to engage an audience just discovering WGNA's first dramatic original, Salem, on Netflix after its first season and build on that interest before Season 2 – all before any new marketing materials were released. Basically, we needed to leverage Season 1 content, but to reinvent it in a way that felt exciting.

So our social campaign had to be architected to rise above standard reminders to make a bold statement of this show being something truly exceptional. The key was to reach out to a younger audience and to use every official channel to capture its intense, sexy, even graphic tone with original content that was super sharable. In other words – we were determined to create original video that jumped out in their feeds.

Strategy and Execution

Increasing reach beyond current fans wasn't about selling the story. Devotion to story and characters would only follow if we could first succeed in convincing users to give it a look. Through fresh eyes. So rather than go the traditional route of a Season 1 recap, we aimed to boil down the show to its most intense beats. The result was a series of eye-catching "supercuts," original edits of Season 1 footage that focused more on the unexpectedly fresh, dark energy than the "based in history" narrative.

These quick-cutting video pieces jumped out in feeds as we mined seemingly endless beats of gory, Satanic moments ("WitchcraftCut"), sexy glances and smoldering exchanges between our leads ("SmolderCut"), and piercing screams of terror and evil ("ScreamCut") – all set to a pounding score that played up the shock value. Suddenly Salem was something much more than something new on WGNA; in the course of a couple of heart-pounding minutes it became "must check out" viewing for the American Horror Story crowd.


These original cuts not only helped redefine Salem, but they also served to introduce the show to a new audience in a fresh way, shifting their expectations. "WitchcraftCut," with its slew of screams and a touch of humor, proved social gold – with the first post on Salem's Facebook page generating over 225,000 organic views in just days. This was more buzz than the official trailer. And the energy translated into ratings, as Season 2 averaged over 1.1 million Total Viewers, more than doubling its Live + 7 performance over the course of the season – numbers powerful enough that it was picked up for another run in Season 3.


Video for WGN America: Salem WitchcraftCut

Entrant Company / Organization Name

bpg, WGN America

Entry Credits