My wife and I discovered Breaking Bad long after the series built an audience and well after the show’s unbelievable viral marketing campaign to build a following. Prior to season one AMC ran a marketing campaign that should have copy-cats out the wazoo trying to recreate what BB did. The premise was pretty simple:
An online customizable video was used to promote season one. Users would receive a webcam message from Walt urging them to live their life to the fullest, at the end of which he would score their name from a list.
Once you finished watching the video you would be prompted to forward the same video to someone else inserting their names into the form below…
Pretty bad-ass indeed. If you paid attention to the video, Breaking Bad helped to develop the character of Walter White before the show launched. In the video, a phone rings and a half naked man frantically drops a pile of money before engaging in conversation. I don’t know about you, but my attention was grabbed and I was already pulled into the scene. The next action is a clipboard being pressed against the camera and when the paper comes into focus, your name is readable and the character on your computer screen is heard dictating the State that you live in. Pure genius from a marketing standpoint.
The following year prior to season two’s launch, BB produced a second video with an evolved premise from the first.
The way AMC positioned Breaking Bad even before the initial episode aired was awesome. Whomever created the marketing campaign knew who the target demographic was and knew how to intrigue them enough to have them help spread the word. This sort of “hacker marketing” reminds me of Ryan Holiday’s book title Growth Hacker Marketing. Ryan was at one point the Marketing Director of American Apparel and now is an author and runs his own marketing company.
Lots can be learned from Ryan and the examples he uses in his book for how very well-known companies use simple but well thought out plans of attack when they need the public to help get the word out. Here’s an interview that gives a little background of Ryan and his wisdom, but I highly recommend picking up his book, Growth Hacker Marketing, it’s a quick read and makes you see marketing in a whole new light.