HBO's Westworld transports viewers to an immersive theme park where the line between human and artificial intelligence is blurry. In the world of the show, Westworld is renowned as the highest luxury experience available. How could HBO replicate the look and feel of the park in the digital space? When approaching this challenge, HBO and its partners began with a simple premise: what if Westworld were real?
At the center of the campaign was DiscoverWestworld.com, a responsive website where visitors could plan their trips to the imaginary Westworld theme park. The richly-detailed site captured the look and feel of a luxury travel site designed to immerse visitors in the world of the show, offering an intriguing point of entry for new viewers and plenty of easter eggs for fans to discover. An elegant parallax design allowed users to scroll or navigate to the main sections of the site which were continually updated with new content throughout the season.
As visitors began to explore the website, a whole new world was revealed. The experience began on the homepage with an immersive video background of the show's dramatic locations which evolved throughout the campaign. Hidden key commands soon revealed "glitches"—short video and audio clips revealing distorted characters and cryptic messages from the show.
Visitors who registered on the site were invited to take an assessment quiz and were assigned a character archetype based on their response. Soon Gunslingers and Homesteaders were being invited back to book their personalized packages through the site's custom itinerary section.
Throughout the season, the site experience and elements evolved to incorporate new twists in the series' narrative. New locations opened on the map. The personality quiz was introduced and evolved. Glitches were introduced that could "break" the site and lead viewers deeper into the mystery. Hidden codes gave access to the Intranet of Westworld's in-world parent company, Delos, where fans could find a treasure trove of easter eggs and customized assets that were released in parallel with the show's weekly episodes.
One of the most innovative features of the website was Aeden, the concierge bot. By typing questions into the chat box, fans could carry on a dialogue with over 250 unique responses—and the more fans interacted with Aeden, the richer the experience became. Immediately after the season finale ended, fans were directed to the website to find much of the site had been shuttered—and Aeden was waiting to answer questions and tease Season 2.
Upon launch, DiscoverWestworld.com caused an explosion of interest, generating 1.76 million visits and climbing. Visitors returned again and again to explore its mysteries, making it an invaluable extension of the series and a gift to the devoted fans. The elegant interface of the site eventually cracked and shattered, which perfectly represented the action of the show. It became the most popular site for a Season 1 show in HBO history, overtaking fan-favorites like Game of Thrones and True Detective and helping make Westworld the most successful Season 1 show in HBO history.
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