Cool advertising: Trublood – the synthetic blood soft drink

So I’ve just come back to the UK after a two week holiday (“vacation”) in the States, where I visited New York and other parts of the East coast. As it was my first trip, it was pretty interesting to see the cultural differences between the UK and US, the most obvious one being that the Americans are a lot more friendly than the Brits. It’s a shame to perpetuate the myth of British people being more reserved and maintaining their “stiff upper lip,” but unfortunately, the traditional cultural stereotype is truthful to some extent.

Whilst in New York, I was intrigued by an advert, apparently for a bottled synthetic blood-flavoured soft drink called Trublood. Having a rather sick sense of humour, as well as a (perfect healthy?!) interest in human physiology, I was hoping to sample some of this interesting beverage during my stay in the US. Admittedly, I did find the concept of a drink disguised as human bodily fluids rather strange, but given that this was my first trip to the US, I guess I just dismissed it offhand, and thought “Only in America…”

It was only when I got home, that I got the chance to do some much needed Googling to find the drink online, only to find that rather than encouraging members of the public to drink your own blood, the ad was actually a rather innovative campaign for HBO’s new television show, “True Blood.”

As well as having to admit that I was gullible enough to get sucked in by Americanย  advertising, I also have to take into account that I would have been willing to sample synthetic blood, if it had been readily available.

I’m not quite sure what this says about me, but this gets to the heart of why this marketing campaign is so clever.

  • The campaign understands its audience: people macabre enough to consider the possibility of drinking synthetic blood for fun are probably also the ideal audience that HBO is looking for.
  • Good understanding of the relationship between online and offline marketing: with little additional purchase info provided on the billboard itself, the ad acts as an effective driver of traffic to the website.
  • This also encourages users to visit, a dedicated microsite for the drink, that “reminds vampires to drink responsibly.”

The microsite extends advertising for the drink in an inventive, innovative and realistic way.

I especially love that the Tru Blood apparently comes in four distinct flavours: Type O, (“Hearty and Satisfying”), Type A (“Light and Delicate”), Type B (“Aggressive and Energizing”), Type AB (“Smooth and Refined”).

I’m not quite sure what type would suit me best, but the Type Finder rather helped in that respect. After answering a series of questions, I found that I was “The Cultivated Aesthete – Type A” and apparently share similar taste in blood with Oscar Wilde.

And, apparently I wasn’t the only one taken in by the campaign: bloodthirsty consumers have apparently made efforts to purchase the product or locate a dealer.

To some extent, the tactics employed are similar to a campaign last year for Showtime’s Dexter, which fooled some viewers into thinking that they were the next victims of a gruesome series of murders by a notorious serial killer. Both campaigns use shock tactics to resonate with consumers and viewers, as they play on the sense of the macabre and sheer morbid curiousity.

Overall, the ad does a great job of standing out amid the wealth of advertising messages – whilst I might not ever get to find out what synthetic blood tastes likes, I’m sure I’ll be one of many bloodthirsty viewers checking out True Blood, the TV show when it’s broadcast later this September.

“TrueBlood,” the new series from the creators of Six Feet Under starts on HBO on the 7th of September.

Photo credit: “Comic-Con: Trueblood billboard,” Mitch Wagner on Flickr.



  1. CocoKraft · August 3, 2008

    As a new yorker first and foremost your post makes me proud ๐Ÿ™‚

    I’ll be tuning into anything HBO launches. I personally can’t wait for the next season of “In Treatment.” Saved us a lot of money in therapy bills watching others sweat it out with the shrink. Gripping.

  2. evolution · August 4, 2008

    Thanks for commenting, CocoKraft.

    We haven’t heard anything about this new show here in the UK at all – it was the chance encounter in the States that led to me finding out more. I’m looking forward to catching the show later this Autumn, and I’ll try to check out “In Treatment” at some point too.

    The thing about New York (and any city more generally), is that you’re hit with such a wealth of advertising messages, everywhere and anywhere. I think the fact that I remembered to further research this particular campaign rather aptly demonstrates the effectiveness of the ad.

  3. Antonio · August 9, 2008

    Glad you enjoyed New York. ๐Ÿ™‚

    It truly is an amazing city eh? Did you watch any broadway shows?

    I love going to New York on a weekend, watching a few shows and then coming back home to Toronto. – Always such a treat!


  4. Drew · August 17, 2008

    Loved your story. I was SUCKED in also. I like you wanted a bottle myself; but only for the bottle. It’s pretty cool looking, wouldn’t you agree?

    I guess we’ll all be waiting impatiently for Sept. 7.


  5. evolution · August 17, 2008

    @Antonio – New York is amazing! It was my first trip to America, and NYC just took my breath away. Didn’t get the chance to go to any Broadway shows, but I’m hoping to visit more frequently now that I have got my first taste of the city that never sleeps! ๐Ÿ™‚

    @Drew – Thanks for commenting.

    I really wanted a bottle and the chance to try the drink too ๐Ÿ˜‰
    Ah well, perhaps not getting the opportunity to pretend to be a vampire is a good thing…

    Really looking forward to checking out the show too.

  6. dpreg · January 25, 2009

    this drink look so amazing!
    anyone know who to contact to try and get them to really make it??

  7. scotty p · February 7, 2009

    my fiance is a vampire and i thought this shit was real. i hope they really make that stuff and soon. it worries me to death when she goes out to hunt. i’m a werewolf and i thought it sounded pretty tasty myself.

  8. scotty p · February 7, 2009

    and, it IS NOT “cool advertising” it is misleading and it got my hopes up for nothing!

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