Banshee, a new original series on Cinemax, recently made it’s premiere on TV, but the show is already making waves on the web with its unusual pre-premiere marketing. Episode One of the new series has been turned into a collection of animated GIFs, with the entire first hour distilled into 80 blinking frames.
The GIFs are presented like chapters in a book; over the twelve chapters of episode one, we learn that the plot centers around an ex-convict with plenty of enemies. We go from seeing him getting released from prison to fighting off numerous enemies (at least 5 people die in the 80 GIFs) to deciding to masquerade as the town’s new sheriff. Of course, we could have just read the series description to learn this much, but the GIFs do provide some extra insight into the series: there’s a hair-stylist sidekick, a former bad girl turned housewife, and a prominent businessman (and side gangster) who has a perverted sense of justice.
The GIF series preview was created in partnership with Buzzfeed, and a microsite called Banshee GIF shop lets fans browse additional GIFs from the show. Although watching the collection of GIFs is a bit tedious, especially when you can simply read or watch a more traditional preview for the show, the creative take capitalizes on the popularity of the easily shared, animated format. Placing the animated GIF episode on BuzzFeed takes advantage of the site’s regular use of the format in their content, and is a more natural, integrated advertising element that is more likely to be viewed and shared than a typical banner ad– in fact, in addition to the GIF episode, Cinemax has also partnered with fan sites to distribute custom-edited GIF trailers.
Chris Spadaccini, SVP of brand and product marketing at parent company HBO, speaks to the decision to use GIFs to promote the show:
The GIF format has emerged as a popular visual language across the internet and provides a creative way into social conversations by leveraging existing online behaviors. It allowed us to tease the world of ‘Banshee’ using a retro-cool technology and encourage users to engage with a range of provocative moments from the series. The GIFs also tie back to the visual style of the series by referencing the cinemagraphs in the opening title sequence.
Will the GIF gamble pay off for Cinemax? Watch a trailer for the new show below: