Building Hype Around Something New – But It Better Be Good

I’ve been a really big fan of HBO and their original programming. There was tremendous build up for one their new shows, with tons of advertising (obviously having a big marketing budget)… it is HBO, after all. Boardwalk Empire, starring Steve Buscemi, with a marvelous supporting ensemble of actors, directed by Martin Scorsese and written by Terence Winter.

So far, I’ve watched three episodes and there are definitely details that appeal to me. I love the recreated, dated look of Atlantic City at the dawn of Prohibition, with cool signage, costumes, marquis and overall cinematography. Many of the supporting characters are unique and memorable, but I’m not sure Steve Buscemi was the right choice as the star. I’ve loved him in other films, but in this series, I think they needed someone with a bit more charisma.

There’s another show on HBO that I just love, Bored to Death, starring Jason Schwartzman, Ted Danson, and Zach Galifianakis. Created by Jonathan Ames this show is witty, hilarious and I’ve wondered why it hasn’t gotten more advertising, (larger marketing budget) so more people will learn of it and tune in.

I wanted to discuss this comparison because companies have multiple products and how do they know which to really push out there, advertise to the public and which to hold back on? Is it star power that builds the budget, whether the product is worth it or not? Is it because Martin Scorcese is the director of Boardwalk Empire that the advertising budget was so much higher than on Bored to Death, even though the cast is known? Is it that dramas are taken more seriously than half-hour comedies when it comes to advertising?

When I think about how this would apply to a different consumer product-based business, how do we know if we’re featuring the right product? Our latest and greatest usually gets the marketing budget. What if we pick the wrong product and push all our advertising toward it and it’s not well received?

We can hire marketing professionals, show them our ideas and trust their advice. We can also tell by past experience with similar products. (In the case of Boardwalk Empire, I imagine the past success of Deadwood and The Soprano’s plus Scorsese gives them the star power needed.) We can test market the new products and see how they’re received. We can get celebrity endorsements and those that follow them, might stand behind us.

In many businesses it’s going to be hit or miss when selling to the public, but if we surround ourselves with the best, most professional people, we’re more likely to have a hit.

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