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 American 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 trubeverage.com, 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.