According to the NYT, HBO are going all out to promote their new Martin Scorsese series Boardwalk Empire. The unusual thing about the effort is how they’ve enlisted the help of three brands; Harrah’s, Macy’s and Canadian Club.
Since the show is set in the era prohibition era, it might seem surprising to see Canadian Club playing such a prominent role, but apparently the brand was firmly associated with the period; Al Capone was rumored to have smuggled the brand from Windsor Canada, to Detroit.
Obviously a Scorsese show for HBO is going to get attention and it’s probably going deal with some edgy content and themes- something you wouldn’t have thought these three brands would have wanted to be part of. However, they’ve probably seen the success of the Mad Men as another period piece and seen the opportunity to gain cultural propulsion by taking some risks.
This is a nice deal for both parties because HBO get’s an inside track on a lot of interesting free media- like store windows in Bloomingdales, hotel rooms in Atlantic City and a partnership in speakeasy parties organized by Canadian Club.
The challenge for these brands is to make sure they can “own” something out of this deal and really play a role. If they are just seen as mere “sponsors”, they won’t have capitalized on the opportunity correctly. Clearly this is not their creative idea and content and there’s a danger these brands could get lost in the shuffle.
(Continue reading here.)